Winning health innovations revealed at awards

Innovations capable of transforming patient care across the North East and North Cumbria have been recognised at the Bright Ideas in Health Awards.

Individuals and teams from the NHS, universities, businesses, and charities had their hard work celebrated at the annual health innovation awards ceremony in Newcastle last night. [Thursday 23 March]

The awards, now in their 18th year, recognise those who are finding new ways to improve the health and social care system, whether it’s through development of new products or technologies, changing the way a service is delivered, research methods, or collaboration opportunities.

Hundreds of entries were submitted this year for the first in-person event since before the pandemic in 2019.

The prestigious ceremony, held at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead, brought together the shortlisted finalists with leading figures from across the region’s health and care sector to see the winners of each of the 10 categories announced.

Winning innovations this year included a finger prick blood test for stroke patients, a fetal wellbeing education programme, 3D printed bone models, a PPE manufacturing hub, and much more.

The winners in the 10 categories receive a cash prize and support from innovation experts at the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC), which organises the awards, to progress their ideas.

Dr Nicola Hutchinson, Chief Executive Officer at the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC), which organises the awards, said: “Our 18th Bright Ideas in Health Awards were particularly special as it marked the first face to face ceremony since our last get together more than three years ago. Innovation played a critical role in supporting us to get through the pandemic, so it felt very poignant to reflect and celebrate everything that has been achieved within our vibrant and cohesive ecosystem.

“The awards once again highlighted the breadth of entrepreneurial spirit and talent we have within the region’s health and care sector. I’d like to extend a huge congratulations to everyone who took home awards and all the innovators who continue to embrace the challenge of thinking differently. There are some incredibly exciting innovations that could make a real difference to people accessing health and care services across the North East and North Cumbria and we are looking forward to supporting these as they progress in the future.”

Samantha Allen, Chief Executive at the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board, which is the headline sponsor of the Bright Ideas in Health Awards, said: “We are delighted to be the headline sponsor of the Bright Ideas in Health Awards again this year. I am proud to see the immense talent and creativity that we have here in the North East and North Cumbria.

“It is fantastic to see so many practical and innovative solutions being developed to help transform health and care for our patients. Congratulations to all the winners, finalists and to everyone who participated.

“Innovation is so important for our health and care system; I am excited to see how we can continue working in different ways to tackle the health challenges we face.”

The winners in each category are listed below:

Development of an Innovative Device or Technology, sponsored by The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI)

WINNER: Point-of-Care Blood Test for the Pre-hospital Identification of Stroke Patients Suitable for Emergency Thrombectomy Treatment – Newcastle University and Pockit Diagnostics

Overview of innovation: Pockit Diagnostics innovative blood test “LVOne” identifies LVO strokes within minutes, facilitating rapid treatment. Current LVO stroke identification involves a brain scan which can only be done in hospital and requires a radiologist, whereas this innovation uses a finger prick of blood. Within minutes, this test is able to identify an LVO with 95% accuracy saving 97 minutes on average resulting in better patient outcomes as well as cost and efficiency savings.


Digital Innovation in Health and Social Care

WINNER: Sunderland Clinical Support Information (CSI) – Sunderland GP Alliance

Overview of innovation: A lack of quality referral information and significant variability in pathways and referrals was the driving force for a centralised pathway management tool, the Sunderland Clinical Support Information (CSI). Pioneered by Sunderland GP Alliance, working collaboratively with TeamNet, the team developed a bespoke, trusted system which is now in use by over 1,000 members of the primary care workforce in Sunderland. Amongst its benefits, the CSI is improving patient access to services by signposting to best practice, and locally agreed clinical responsibilities, ensuring patients are treated by the right clinician, at the right stage of their illness or condition.


Innovation in Clinical Education, sponsored by NHS Health Education England

WINNER: MDT Fetal Wellbeing Education Programme – Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Overview of innovation: An education programme designed to improve maternity care, with a focus on fetal wellbeing. The program combines an MDT focused approach, with human factor principles and provides teams with a safe space to reflect on the way they work. By learning together, teams can build trust and respect which is hoped to translate into better team working, a flatter hierarchy, and improved patient outcomes.


Demonstrating an Impact upon Patient Safety and / or Quality Improvement

WINNER: 3D Printing in Trauma and Orthopaedics – South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Overview of innovation: Cross sectional imaging used to create 1:1 scale 3D printed models of bone and joint deformity, which are used as a dry run simulation before surgery to ensure all necessary equipment is available, reducing theatre time and facilitating improved clinical care through greater surgical accuracy. Models are also used to educate patients.


Cross-organisation Working to Deliver Research, sponsored by NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria

WINNER: NCBD Stoma Programme: A medley of methodologies across organisations to deliver high impact commercial research – The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Overview of innovation: A programme of research to assess a new innovative telemedicine service linked to a stoma device representing Coloplast Ltd’s vision of the future of stoma care. This required the creation of a novel and innovative, global first for the company, involving local and national patient hybrid recruitment solutions and demonstrated an exceptional cross-organisational NHS/NIHR/industrial partnerships.


Outstanding Industry Collaboration

WINNER: Development of a New Hazardous Patient Transport Device – The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Overview of innovation: The idea for the AeroPod was developed following the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides a safe and practical way to transport patients who may be infectious, contaminated or immunodeficient. The device is light weight and can be easily transported in ambulance and air ambulance and means patients can be safely moved from one location to another.


Innovation and Improvement in Reducing Healthcare Inequalities Award

WINNER: Autism Expert by Experience – South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust

Overview of innovation: A collaboration between South Tyneside Lifecycle Primary Care Mental Health Service (The Lifecycle Service) and Autism in Mind to improve healthcare for autistic children and adults, by inviting an ‘Expert by Experience’ to observe and access all areas of service and provide a report on which areas work well and which require improvement.


Contribution to Sustainable Healthcare

WINNER: Northumbria Healthcare Manufacturing Hub – Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Overview of innovation: In response to COVID-19 and the national issues in the supply of PPE, a PPE Manufacturing service was created to ensure that the frontline Healthcare workers within the Trust had a continuous supply of quality PPE to enable them to deliver safe and high-quality care to patients. The hub has now produced over 2.2 million hospital gowns which protect Healthcare workers across the country as part of the NHS Supply Chain. The hub has also diversified into producing doctors’ scrubs, theatre hoods, pillows, upholstery and embroidery services for the NHS.


Innovation Champion Team Award

WINNER: No-One Left Behind: Meeting the changing needs of palliative patients in the community throughout the pandemic and beyond – St Oswald’s Hospice

Overview of innovation: When the impact of the pandemic closed St Oswald’s Hospice’s Day Services with immediate effect, their team responded swiftly and imaginatively so that patients could continue to receive safe, high-quality care and support at home or in a community setting. The care team rapidly adapted services – and developed new ones – to help some of the region’s most vulnerable patients to continue to live well at home and, in most cases, to achieve their preferred place of death. Not only did these services ensure care was maintained or even improved for patients, the Hospice worked collaboratively with NHS providers to reduce demand on overstretched NHS services.


Innovation Champion Award


Charlotte Mutton, Specialist Lead Bereavement Midwife – South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust

Charlotte joined South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust during the COVID-19 pandemic as a Specialist Lead Bereavement Midwife. During this time, she has developed the forever cherished care bundle which provides bespoke bereavement training to the multidisciplinary team to improve the experiences of staff providing bereavement care and subsequently the care bereaved families receive. This is reflected through evaluation feedback, reduction in datix reports and improved wellbeing of staff and experiences of bereaved families. Charlotte has created a forever cherished care after bereavement pathway which involves nurturing all involved in the loss of a baby from 14+ weeks to 28 days post-delivery.


Caroline Tweedie, Specialist Breast Care Nurse – Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust

The pandemic posed many challenges to cancer services at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust and the suspension of these support structures exacerbated the feeling of loneliness and isolation for those experiencing cancer. However, Caroline recognised that this offered an unparalleled opportunity to innovate and digitalise the Trust’s cancer support offering and engage with patients with an online solution to “keep patients connected.” Through delivery of hugely successful virtual clinics, to over 40 cancer podcasts available to stream on Spotify, Caroline has demonstrated time-and-time again her dedication to patient care and her unrelenting passion to support those affected by cancer.


Alongside the North East and North Cumbria ICB, the Bright Ideas in Health Awards sponsors include: County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust; Centre for Process Innovation (CPI); Health Education England North East (HEENE); North East Futures University Technical College; South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust; Sintons LLP; The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; NIHR CRN NENC; Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust; SME Centre for Excellence; Teesside University; NIHR ARC North East and North Cumbria; Sunderland University; NECS; Invest Newcastle; and Northumbria University.

To find out more about the Bright Ideas in Health Awards and this year’s finalists, visit: