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Newcastle Hospitals' staff named as Finalists in 4 categories of this year's Bright Ideas in Health Awards

Newcastle’s innovators shortlisted for regional ‘Bright Idea’ awards


Innovators across the North East and North Cumbria that have helped to transform patient care over the last 18 months are to be recognised at this year’s Bright Ideas in Health Awards.

The awards, which return after a one-year hiatus during the pandemic, received a great response from northern innovators all vying for awards across 10 categories.

And the Newcastle Hospitals are delighted to announce that three of their nominations have been shortlisted in four different categories, all clearly demonstrating how we continue to push the boundaries in the provision of innovative health services by harnessing the latest digital technology.

Newcastle’s Finalists

Digital Innovation in Health and Social Care

Newcastle’s Deterioration / Sepsis team have been shortlisted for their Deteriorating patient electronic ALERT initiative, using innovative, digital technology to improve patient safety by rapidly identifying patients whose condition is worsening.

All inpatient adult wards across the Trust use eObservations (eObs) – a system which helps staff to determine the degree of illness of a patient based on their vital signs and recognise those at risk of deterioration through a range of observations including the national early warning score (NEWS2), nursing concerns, urine output and variations.

The new Deterioration Alert – developed by the Deterioration / Sepsis team in collaboration with IT colleagues – is an automated alert sent from eObs to the ward based Whiteboards and electronic patient record (EPR), highlighting any patients with medium / high risk in real time, prompting timely escalation and review.

Since the new system was introduced in the Summer of 2021, staff have seen quicker escalation of deteriorating patients, preventing unplanned ICU admissions and cardiac arrests.

This project is another important step forward in the use of digital technology with clinical staff working closely with IT colleagues to design and shape how we can continue to improve the quality of patient care.

Innovation in Hospital or Community Education Category

Collaborative working between the team at the Great North Children’s Hospital and the North East’s Young’s People Advisory Group (YPAG) has been shortlisted for their development of ‘Virtual work experience in healthcare.’

Work experience forms a vital part of vocational education and recruitment in healthcare giving young people an insight into the day to day experience of clinical professionals, and the skills, values and qualities required.  The Newcastle Hospitals has a well established work experience programme for young people but, as with so many other services, was put on hold as the pandemic emerged, and all non-essential face to face activities ceased.

Working closely with the YPAG, colleagues at the Great North Children’s Hospital developed a three-year programme of virtual work experience opportunities for young people interested in healthcare. This includes ‘Nattering with the NHS’, a growing collection of video interviews – co-produced with young people – featuring healthcare workers, exploring how different staff chose their own personal journey.

Newcastle’s ‘Virtual work experience in healthcare’ has continued to allow young people to make informed decisions about their future careers, improve equal opportunities, and broaden access to NHS careers which will enrich our workforce and inspire young people across our region. Feedback has included:

Due to the pandemic, many opportunities normally available to young people were unable to happen and lots of people really struggled with lockdown; feeling lonely and the pressures of home schooling especially in exam years like myself. Being a part of the project has been a great help. Its given me something to do and focus on when otherwise I would have been sitting around. Its given me a great sense of accomplishment as I have not only been helping other people, but also doing something for myself. I have developed skills I hadn’t even considered such as public speaking and research design. YPAGne and the work experience projects give you a great sense of community and mutual respect.

Lily Gills, YPAGne Member, Kidzmed and Biobank Projects

Demonstrating an Impact upon Patient Safety and / or Quality Improvement

Newcastle’s Deteriorating patient electronic ALERT initiative was also shortlisted for this ‘Demonstrating an impact upon Patient Safety/Quality Improvement’ category, as the team were able to demonstrate how, for the first time, the organisation – which has over 1.84million patient contacts each year – has a full overview of all deteriorating inpatients, using real-time data on deteriorating.

Since its inception in July 2021, Deterioration ALERT has seen a phenomenal 200% improvement in compliance – within the first 2 months – with national NEWS2 guidance, demonstrating it is possible to rapidly embed a new early recognition system, helping to improve management of deteriorating patients, with staff engagement, training and cultural change.

Research Impact Award

The NIHR Patient Recruitment Centre Newcastle has been shortlisted for their RELIEVE-IBSD Virtual Trial which enabled research staff to test a new treatment for patients with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and diarrhoea despite the pandemic, using digital technology.

Director of the centre and lead investigator Professor Yan Yiannakou, said: “This study is certainly the UK’s first virtual interventional trial for IBS patients, and one of the UK’s first virtual trials of any interventional therapy. It is a pathfinder for delivery of clinical trials and may help start a revolution in the way we run clinical trials post COVID-19.

“Even before the pandemic there was a real desire to develop virtual trials as the current site-dependent nature of trial recruitment can lead to geographical exclusion. Virtual trial capability really empowers patients; it allows any patient anywhere in the country to access the trial. It also means zero hospital visits which makes participation safer and easier for all.”

Recognition for those who have risen to the challenge

Now in its 17th year, the prestigious awards recognise the achievements of individuals and teams working within the NHS, industry and academia, who have risen to the challenge of improving services provided to patients, either through a technical innovation or through better service delivery.

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: “Following a year’s break we are thrilled to be back with the Bright Ideas in Health Awards for 2021. After the last 18 months, it’s inspiring to look back at some of the amazing health innovations that have come out of the region.

“We have some incredible finalists this year who are all worthy of recognition and celebration – and we will do just that at the awards ceremony on 25th November. Well done and good luck to all the finalists on the night.”

The Bright Ideas in Health Awards, which are this year supported by lead sponsor North East and North Cumbria ICS,  will celebrate innovators that have stepped up to the challenges posed during the pandemic, which has seen innovations developed, evaluated and adopted at speed and scale.

The winners of the 10 categories will receive a cash prize and support from innovation experts at the AHSN NENC to progress their ideas.

They will be announced at the annual Bright Ideas in Health Awards ceremony, which will take place virtually on Thursday 25th November at 6:00pm.

Bright Ideas in Health Awards
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