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A new search has launched for the world’s best healthcare innovations to help improve patients’ lives, focusing on key NHS priorities including mental health, primary care, and prevention and early intervention in cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD). 

The NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) - an NHS England initiative supported by the country’s 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) and hosted at UCLPartners - is now recruiting up to 12 Fellows representing high-impact, evidence-based innovations, sourced nationally and internationally, which address one or more of the following themes:

  • Mental health: To ensure that people at risk of or experiencing mental health problems are identified early, and can rapidly access effective and convenient care and support.
  • Primary care: To support and strengthen primary care in its aim to ensure high levels of quality, satisfaction and timely access to diagnosis and treatment as close to home as possible.
  • Prevention and early intervention in cancer and CVD: To support people to adopt healthy behaviours linked to the prevention of cancer and/or CVD, and/or to ensure earlier diagnosis and treatment of these conditions.

The NIA aims to accelerate uptake and spread of high-impact innovations across England’s NHS. The NIA Programme Board is chaired by Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England. In its first three years, the accelerator has supported 36 Fellows to deliver uptake of 37 innovations in 1,423 additional NHS sites; with over £45M raised in external funding, 226 jobs created, 52 awards won, and 21 innovations selling internationally. The 4th Call, now open until 24th October 2018, aims to recruit up to 12 new Fellows. These Fellows will be exceptional individuals with a passion and commitment for scaling innovation for greater patient benefit, and for sharing their learnings widely.

The Call is open to local, national and international health and industry innovators, SMEs, charity/third sector, clinicians and academics. Applicants have until midnight on 24th October 2018 to apply, with opportunities to sign up to face-to-face events and online Q&A sessions to receive additional support in the application process.

Mike Hannay, Chair of The AHSN Network, said: “The NHS Innovation Accelerator is one of the flagship programmes of the AHSN Network, and plays a vital role in creating the conditions and cultural change necessary for evidence-based innovations to be taken up faster and more systematically through the NHS. Since launching in 2015, the NIA has supported 37 high-impact, evidence-based innovations to spread nationally, resulting in savings of over £12 million for England’s health and care system in its first year alone.”

For more information and to apply, visit

To find out more about the Fellows and innovations currently supported by the NIA, visit

Follow @NHSAccelerator on Twitter to see supporting testimonials and impact case studies from current Fellows.

We are delighted to have been selected by The Health Foundation, an independent charity, to be part of its Advancing Applied Analytics programme, which aims to improve analytical capability in support of health and care services.

The programme is supporting 11 project teams in the UK that are working on local, innovative, ambitious projects, to help them demonstrate the value of improving analytical capability in health and care services. Each project will run for up to 15 months and will start by October 2018.

Hosted and run by Care City, in collaboration with health and council teams in Barking and Dagenham, the project aims to use a linked dataset to create a deeper understanding of social isolation and troubled families, areas of particular concern for the local council and health services, and to identify opportunities for improved partnership working between health and social care.

We will bring together a local community of analysts across health and council teams, creating a peer network, and provide enhanced learning, to work together on this exciting project.

Jenny Shand, a Director at UCLPartners and Care City said, “Analytics teams in health and council organisations are often focused on internal analysis and reporting to fulfil organisational and national requirements. However, these analysts have great insights which could be explored through both the use of connected datasets and advanced statistical techniques. We intend to give local analysts an opportunity to develop their skills and work collaboratively on a unique linked dataset. This will in turn give us a more complete understanding of service use, population characteristics and behaviours and therefore help target solutions to tackle the issues of social isolation and troubled families that we have in Barking”.

Martin Bardsley, Senior Fellow at the Health Foundation, said: “We know from our report Understanding analytical capability in health care the importance of improving the way we use information and analysis in the NHS. It is widely acknowledged that health care services cannot access the right type of analysis or make the best use of data that already exist, never mind take advantage of new data streams and methods that are becoming possible.

“This is the second round of our Advancing Applied Analytics programme and we have selected 11 exciting local projects that will demonstrate how better analysis can lead to better health and care. In particular these projects will address the capability deficiencies that exist, and provide lessons for the wider health and care system. We look forward to working with the project teams to highlight the value of analytical skills and explore the best ways that they can be delivered.”

Olivia, a virtual health assistant, triages patients symptoms and connects to most appropriate care pathway.

In partnership with Britannia Pharmacy and NHS England, today we're launching a campaign introducing a new healthcare triage service to the residents of Barking Riverside, with the introduction of an app, Ask NHS, powered by Sensely.

Ask NHS is a simple mobile online solution that provides improved access to local NHS services, such as appointment booking and 111, and is aligned with the GP Forward View online consultation requirements. Care City’s new poster and leaflet campaign across Barking Riverside endeavours to introduce patients to Olivia, a virtual health assistant, and encourage them to access her healthcare advice via an electronic tablet available at Britannia Pharmacy in The Rivergate Centre. This virtual assistant provides trusted advice for urgent, but non-life threatening emergencies, connecting patients to the most appropriate care pathway.

Barking Riverside has been selected by NHS England to be part of their national Healthy New Town (HNT) Programme. This new innovation is part of the HNT Programme’s delivery plan to design a new model of care for Barking Riverside. Pharmacy is an excellent first point of contact for patients suffering from minor ailments or illnesses, or for patients requiring advice. With Nurse Olivia, the offer from our local pharmacies in Barking and Dagenham is greatly expanded.

Benefits of this new service include:

  • Reduced waiting times for medical advice - Patients are directed to the right health service, at the right time, in the right place, reducing pressure on GP practices.
  • Self-care powered by NHS Choices – With Ask NHS, patients have multiple resources available at their fingertips, and are able to easily browse information and guidance provided by NHS Choices.
  • Easily find health services - Patients can find opening times and locations of their local healthcare services.
  • Information Governance - Ask NHS is built on a foundation of robust IG policies and is cyber security and safeguarding compliant.

John Craig, Chief Executive, Care City commented “We are delighted that we are gaining commitment from local pharmacies to use technology and offer new services to benefit themselves, their patients and the NHS. Ask NHS is the next step for local patients to access appropriate NHS services and reduce demand on GPs. Sharing the information provided at the online consultation with a patients GP does then offer a connected service, ensuring visits that are made to the GP are efficient and effectual”.  He continued “when the Healthy New Towns team spoke to local people, it was clear that the time taken to get an appointment at the local surgery was seen as an area of concern, so we really hope the introduction of Olivia begins to tackle this to some extent for residents. We are really interested to understand how much impact technology like this can have for local people, so we will be evaluating the success of this project as well as speaking to local people about their experiences”.

Claude Pereira, Clinical and Quality Assurance Pharmacist, Britannia Pharmacy commented “For many with smartphones, accessing health apps is not uncommon. However we have high rates of digital exclusion for older people in Barking and by offering them access to an electronic tablet or smartphone and wifi at Britannia Pharmacy it overcomes this challenge to the adoption of digital innovation and enables them the access to health care services that they are entitled to”.