The AHSN NENC Digital Pioneers programme launched in April 2022 and since then, Programme Manager Emma Richardson, has been connecting with colleagues across dentistry, optometry, pharmacy and general practice to help develop a culture of innovation. Emma soon found out that to develop an innovative culture she must first understand the pressure on the primary care workforce so that the AHSN NENC can work collaboratively to understand their problems and challenges, not add to them.

In this blog, Emma discusses how innovation can be used to support our busy NHS workforce and improve services for patients.

As autumn rolls in it brings with it gorgeous colour changes in nature, crisp mornings, and cosy evenings. The NHS workforce across the nation, however, braces itself for the inevitable challenges that winter brings. Speaking with colleagues on the frontline, I know that already there are high pressures on health services across our region. Pressure can rarely be viewed as positive… but sometimes a workforce under pressure can create the most brilliantly innovative ideas that have the potential to transform patient pathways and relieve some of the workforce pressure.

For so many patients, primary care services are the front door to the NHS. Patients rely on primary care, yet many do not know the range of treatment and support offered by each service. For example, did you know some pharmacies can check a patient’s blood pressure or administer travel immunisations? One of our innovators identified this as an opportunity for digital innovation and developed a project to digitise pharmacy services and public health messages so that patients can easily see them. Could this project help relieve some of the pressures in general practice and optimise the skills of our amazing pharmacy teams? We think it will!

It’s not just patient caseload that is affecting primary care, there has been so much change in the system in response to the pandemic. New technologies have been introduced, pathways have been transformed and changes to staff infrastructure, to name a few. The question is, can the AHSN NENC help maximise the impact and use of technologies rolled out in response to the pandemic? Can we develop an understanding of the journey an innovator will take when they have an idea?

We know we can!

How can the AHSN NENC further work with and support primary care?

We will:

  • Continue to develop relationships with colleagues working in primary care, listen and acknowledge concerns, challenges and pressures.
  • Support ideas development in the NHS and help to turn ideas in to novel products and services.
  • Hold more showcase events highlighting innovative ideas already out there.
  • Host Lunch and Learn sessions to upskill the workforce.
  • Address unmet needs or challenges.
  • Deliver further sessions of our Digital Champions personal development programme.

If you would like to find out more, click through using the links above.

If you are ready to get involved email [email protected]