A renal nurse from Sunderland City Hospitals
City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has been selected to exhibit in the Innovation Showcase at this year's VentureFest North East. Innovation manager Charlotte Fox explains how the trust works with businesses to create innovative products that help patients.
Describe your business in no more than 60 words
We are an NHS Foundation Trust and our ethos at City Hospitals Sunderland is 'Excellence in Health putting People first'. We work collaboratively with Small & Medium Enterprise (SME) companies to develop innovative products that will enhance our patients’ care and quality of life.
Tookie Limited is one such company responding to unmet needs that will enable patients and carers to lead a #ALifeMoreNormal.
What prompted you to enter the innovation showcase?
Access to NHS expertise, knowledge and support is possible! There are many unmet needs in healthcare which we believe can often be addressed by collaborating with external non-NHS agencies and companies and in turn this will benefit our patient population.
We want to promote the Innovation Pathway, which is commissioned by the Academic Health Sciences Network: North East & North Cumbria (AHSN: NENC). The Innovation Pathway facilitates the development and commercialisation of innovative ideas and provides a unique opportunity for SMEs to access and benefit from the healthcare sector.
By promoting and showcasing some of the successful work we have achieved we hope to encourage more SMEs to talk to us about the opportunities for them within the healthcare sector.
Describe the innovation that you’ve entered the showcase with.
The Tookie Vest for Renal has been specifically designed by haemodialysis patients for haemodialysis patients, with clinicians and industry in a collaborative partnership.
The Tookie Vest for Renal is the result of exploratory research through Patient & Public Involvement focus groups. It is a class one medical device.
Every year in the UK approximately 12,500 haemodialysis patients are fitted with a central venous catheter. Accidental fall out of this catheter occurs in around 20% of these patients. Every time this catheter falls out and needs replacing it costs the NHS an average of £3,000! The Tookie Vest for Renal has been specifically designed to keep the line safely and securely in place. This allows patients to live #ALifeMoreNormal.
How would you describe that innovation to your grandparents?
This is a vest which helps to keep a catheter, which is a tube which comes out of a patient’s chest, safely and securely in place. Patients can confidently carry on with their normal daily lives without worrying about it falling out and having to go back to hospital to have it put back into place.
What are the best and worst parts of trying to be innovative in your business?
Simple innovations can be transformative to patient care and their quality of life. They also have the potential to save the NHS money which can be used in other ways to enhance patient care, and can also generate new monies for the same purpose. However, adoption of Innovation in healthcare is slow and difficult. The NHS landscape has been hard to navigate and understand.
The AHSN: NENC have also highlighted this issue of slow uptake of innovation within the NHS and therefore created the Innovation Pathway to make this task less onerous, placing an emphasis on bringing healthcare and industry closer together and ‘at pace’.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
The Department of Research & Innovation at City Hospitals Sunderland not only helps SMEs who would want to engage with the NHS; we also assist members of the NHS with development of their own innovations (which include devices, apps, clinical & digital pathways etc) again aiming to benefit the NHS as a whole, as well as recognising the input of motivated individuals. This has led to us facing the challenge of commercialisation and diffusion of the ideas from within our region nationally.
Where do you get support and advice to help you run your business?
Our greatest support is from our patients and our staff who help to identify unmet needs as well as share their bright ideas for Innovation with us.
This development work has been carried out with a lot of support from RTC North, MedConnectNorth, and the study support services from the Clinical Research Network: North East & North Cumbria. This encompasses services provided and funded by the Academic Health Sciences Network as part of their Innovation Pathway.
With the Tookie project in particular: the Renal Team at Sunderland Royal Hospital have provided expert knowledge, guidance and assistance as well as sourcing patients and their families.
What does being chosen for the innovation showcase mean to you?
It’s given us a fantastic opportunity to showcase the diverse and innovative potential of healthcare and how transformative innovation can be.
Where do you see your company in five years’ time?
We aim to collaborate with many more companies like Tookie allowing us to offer our patients and clinicians solutions to their unmet needs. We are dedicated to improving the quality of patients’ lives as well as enhancing care and excellence in health.
What would you tell businesses who are hoping to be more innovative?
Identify the unmet need, scope out the problem and collaborate with partners to develop and evaluate the best solution
Come and see the region's latest innovations for yourself, and get a unique chance to talk to the people behind the big ideas by registering for VentureFest North East here.