Spreading innovation

We spread proven innovative practice across our region’s health and care system by building networks, sharing knowledge, strengthening collaboration and providing practical support to our partners.

Developed over many years working regionally and nationally, our expertise in spreading innovative practice is a considerable asset to the health and care sector in the South West.

During 2020/21 we’re proud to have spread innovation via our national programmes, as follows: 

  • Implementation support and spread of innovative practice to scale up COVID Oximetry @home – part of a national commission from NHS England and NHS Improvement - and virtual wards pathways with local healthcare systems. To date, 888 people have benefitted from COVID Oximetry @home and virtual wards across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.
  • Supporting health and social care systems to train 1,440 staff from 350 care homes across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset in the use of RESTORE2 deterioration tools to spot serious illness and sepsis.
  • Supporting access to rehabilitation therapies. Rehabilitation Enablement in CHronic Heart Failure (REACH-HF) is a 12-week programme to increase participation of heart failure patients and carers in rehabilitation therapies by bringing care into their homes. REACH-HF received support through the South West AHSN’s Innovation Exchange, funded by the Office for Life Sciences, to develop and deliver online training to 89 health professionals, increasing the accessibly of home rehabilitation during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Working with the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) and other teams across the national AHSN Network, we supported the adoption in the NHS of transformative technologies and medicines through the AAC’s Rapid Uptake Products (RUP) programmes and MedTech Funding Mandate (MTFM). A collaboration between the South West AHSN, the West of England AHSN and the South West Asthma Network led to a successful bid, securing £129,000 of pathway transformation funding in 2021 from the AAC for the treatment of severe asthma. Read more here.

During 2020/21 we’re proud to have spread innovation via our regional programmes, as follows:

  • Supporting the regional response to COVID-19. We supported 100% of GP practices in the South West to implement video consultation between May and June 2020; supporting the scaling up of electronic Repeat Dispensing (eRD) and remote monitoring in care homes; and optimising the use of workforce and processes at vaccination centres, leading to as much as a 50% increase in patient throughput at some vaccination sites. Through our Institute for Social Prescribing - which ran until June 2021, to accelerate innovation in the field of social prescribing in our region and beyond - we supported a range of ‘test beds’ to connect primary care and community responses and support vulnerable individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each test bed has been supported to identify, develop and spread their distinct approach to social prescribing to meet local needs. Read the full report here, which includes insight gathered working with five testbed sites in the South West and the 8 building blocks needed for successful social prescribing.
  • Devon Change Hub. The Devon Change Hub brings together system partners in the county to accelerate quality improvement capability in the region. Our learning and improvement huddles were seen as crucial to the success of the Think NHS 111 First project in reducing the numbers of those attending Emergency Departments (EDs) for non-urgent care. In addition, we provided Nightingale Hospital Exeter with organisational support, including a rapid learning report with lessons learnt from the commissioning stage of the hospital and a qualitative review of system-wide working. Our support informs ongoing work in the Devon system, including winter planning.
  • Better outcomes for preterm babies. Perinatal Excellence to Reduce Injury in Premature Birth (PERIPrem) is a bundle of eleven perinatal care interventions, designed to reduce the risk of injury and death in preterm babies. With participation from 12 hospital trusts, and 48 core perinatal clinicians across the region, we held 17 ‘share and learn’ sessions for staff in the six months to April 2021. To date, we have improved care for 370 babies across 12 hospitals teams in the South West and West of England.

Read more highlights about our work nationally and regionally in our latest annual review.

Innovation Exchange (OLS)

As part of the national AHSN Innovation Exchange, commissioned by the Office for Life Sciences), we have been working with partners across the South West to identify, select and support the adoption of innovations that improve our economy and patients’ lives.

We re-focused our Innovation Exchange programme in 2020–21 to meet the challenges of the pandemic, providing signposting support to over 100 innovators and distributing £83,000 of grants to support COVID-19 focused innovation.

We also supported the launch and delivery of two major research-led economic growth programmes in Cornwall: the Innovation Challenge Fund which focused on e-health small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and the Smartline Project which offers spread and adoption training to Cornwall-based SMEs. Together they have approved £58,500 of grant funding and supported over 20 innovators.

Spread Academy

The Spread Academy is an immersive training programme, run in partnership with the renowned US-based social change agency Billions Institute, global leaders in large-scale change, to help teams put their ideas into action and supported innovators to take their next steps. Spread Academy equips teams and leaders in health and care with the skills they need to unleash large-scale change. Funded through our OLS Innovation Exchange, 420 people have participated in our Spread Academy to date. For more information visit our page here or contact info@swahsn.com. We are planning our next ‘Tech for Change’ Spread Academy for October 2021, designed to support teams who’ve developed technical innovations to solve problems in community, health and care settings - find out more here.

Our priority for 2021/22 is to continue to deliver the AHSN Network national programmes in the following areas:   

  • Adoption and spread of proven innovation.
  • Innovation Exchange to support and enable innovators to build partnerships with the health and care system in the South West.
  • As hosts of the South West Patient Safety Commission.
  • Develop a focused portfolio of regional health equity programmes that have the potential to achieve demonstrable improvement through the spread of innovative practice. The first programme is improving equity of health and wellbeing outcomes for mothers and for babies (perinatal programme).