Celebrating innovation in healthcare across the region

6th April 2023

After a busy month at the AHSN NENC, our Chief Executive, Nicola Hutchinson, reflects on the innovation we have recently supported and celebrated across the region.

As always, I am proud to see what continues to be achieved as a health and life sciences sector when we come together. Over the last month, it has been great to see those achievements celebrated with various awards and shortlist nominations.

From our 18th annual Bright Ideas in Health Awards, to shortlist recognitions in the HSJ Partnership Awards and HSJ Digital Awards, and one of our very own AHSN NENC colleagues winning a national award, it has been a wonderful reminder of the excellent innovation our region has to offer. This month has also seen the AHSN NENC bring innovators and healthcare experts together, with some fantastic initiatives and project days. This has been vital to encourage collaborative working and is driving new innovation in our region.

One of the highlights from this month, was a workshop we co-hosted at the North East Futures UTC, with students collaborating with NHS and industry experts to tackle real problems faced by our regional NHS. The focus of the day was to encourage students to think about how lives can be saved by increasing the uptake of the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. For example, in some schools located within this region, the uptake of this vaccine is as low as 5% in males and 9% in females. Students were presented with this real life problem and asked to design innovative digital health ideas and solutions with a focus on cancer prevention, which they then pitched to our very own ‘Dragons Den’ panel.

It was a privilege to officially launch the North East and North Cumbria Health and Life Sciences Pledge on the 23rd  March. The pledge brings together innovators, academia and the NHS, with a shared ambition to make the North East and North Cumbria region a world leading destination for excellence in health and social care innovation and research. At the launch event, partners pledged to achieve this and together help to reduce health inequalities, increase investment and promote economic growth. Thank you to everyone who attended the event, it marks an incredibly exciting step forward for our wonderful region.

The shared passion for innovation and a determination to improve patient care was celebrated at our Bright Ideas in Health Awards. The awards returned for our 18th year and our first in person awards ceremony in over four years. I continue to be astounded by the fantastic people and projects across our region and the night was a humbling and inspiring evening. Congratulations to all of the finalists!

It was also fantastic to see the region shortlisted in so many categories at the HSJ Partnership Awards, with no fewer than nine finalists from our region! This included two cardiovascular disease prevention projects recognising our work in collaboration with partners to identify people with genetic condition Familial Hypercholesterolaemia and optimising their treatments; and our comprehensive education programme for healthcare professionals, Tackling Cholesterol Together. Congratulations to all finalists, it really emphasises that there is a huge number of innovators to celebrate across the region. You can view the finalists here.

I am also proud to announce that the AHSN NENC has been shortlisted in two categories at the HSJ Digital Awards 2023. Our Digital Champions Education programme, which aims to promote digital technology in primary care, and our work alongside NHS Healthcall, to reduce the physical health gap for people living with Severe Mental Illness (SMI), have both been recognised on the shortlist. Congratulations to everyone involved in the programmes, it’s excellent to see them nominated for the awards. You can view the shortlist here.

I was also delighted to hear about the recognition given to one of our AHSN colleagues at a national Innovation Collaborative meeting last week. Robin Blythe, Programme Manager, was awarded an Everyday Hero award in recognition of his work to drive digital transformation within the region’s care homes.

There’s been a lot to celebrate in the region this month and I know as an organisation we will continue to support and recognise those making a difference in health and social care.