May at the Innovation Forum

10th June 2022

Becky Hanna, our Innovation Manager and chair of the Innovation Forum, writes her first blog following the most recent Innovation Forum event.

Find out more about the Innovation Forum and how we help to develop innovation in the NHS.


Welcome to my first blog post at the AHSN NENC! This will be the first of an introductory series to our Innovation Forum, where I hope to shine a light on what happens at our meetings and who our members are.

I recently met everyone in person for the first time at our May meeting. We hold bi-monthly meetings with individual NHS Trusts taking turns to host. This time we were welcomed to Darlington by Tony Wilson and Jonathan Rowley of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, who also work for a Trust-owned company (subsidiary) called NTH Solutions. Jonathan and Tony work closely with partners at Teesside University, and we were invited by Professor Vikki Rand to meet at the National Horizon Centre. We heard presentations from NTH Solutions and Professor Rand, as well as toured the facilities. I was particularly interested in the examples Vikki shared of some current collaborative projects between the NHS, industry, and academia in our region. Partnerships like these have brought some really interesting innovations to healthcare!

The Forum has rapidly grown in size since 2020, with many new starters joining both the NHS Innovation departments and AHSN NENC. We now have an ‘introduction to new members’ section on every agenda, and this time we welcomed Andrew Edmunds (Director of Innovation, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust). Although Andrew started his role in 2021 this was his first in-person Forum meeting, and it was great to introduce him to everyone.

Another regular feature is a round table discussion of updates from both the AHSN NENC and NHS Trusts. Here members often raise areas they would like to collaborate on with other Trusts, a problem they’ve encountered (which their peers may have a solution to), or share good news.

Finally, I added something a bit different to this meeting agenda. I recently asked each Forum member to complete a skills assessment survey, which featured many categories of the Innovation Pathway. I presented the findings and we discussed training to address skills gaps. Here I aimed to capture what format training would take, what priority areas are, and how much time they have to attend. It was a useful exercise to inform how the AHSN NENC can support the Forum in their job roles, and what sessions I should be planning for the coming year.

We’re taking a summer break, and heading to Sunderland for our September meeting.

Thanks for reading! Do get in touch if anything you’ve read sparks interest!


Contact Becky Hanna for more information about the Innovation Forum at [email protected]