GHP September 2015

ghp September 2015 | 49 health and social care The charity prides itself on funding innovative pro- jects to help change the face on the NHS, working principally with Guy’s and St Thomas’s Trust as well as further afield, working within local communities to help transform healthcare for the benefit of both patients and healthcare workers. £20 million a year is invested in projects by the charity, primarily through the Health Innovation Fund. Projects which receive money from the fund are cho- sen through a two stage process, with the initial stage involving a concept note, a three page brief designed to provide the charity with enough information about what problem they are looking to solve and what impact they think their solution will have. The second stage of the process requires the fulfil- ment of a number of key criteria which ensure that the project has significant potential benefit and that it has a specific audience and a means of being funded fur- ther once it is implemented. Additionally, the charity asks how the project will be evaluated, how patients and hospital staff will engage with the project and what their plan is and how they intend to deliver it. The team is also looked into, with the charity examining whether they have the correct assortment of skills to do perform all the tasks required within the project. The final aspect of the project that is addressed within the plan is value for money, and whether the potential ben- efits of the proposed project are enough to justify the cost of it as well as examining their budget and what other organisations the team has sought funding from. Oliver is keen to emphasise that the plan is not de- signed to be rigidly adhered to: rather, it is an overview which highlights the skills of the researchers. “Because we are asking people to do quite innovative things and be really ambitious we know that that in most cases a project plan is going to be wrong. After all, how can you know at the beginning of a three year project, when you are doing something that is really cutting edge, exactly how it is going to work? You probably don’t. Why we ask them to give us this project outline is so we know they can plan, so we know they can think about risks and take into account all of the various elements of a project.” Ultimately the charity is looking for projects which are not just innovative, but which could potentially make a vast difference within the health service, whether that be solving a particularly large problem or helping an existing aspect of the service to run more efficiently. Oliver made it clear that overall there was one key word to encapsulate what the charity was trying to achieve: “Basically, we like to test ideas with big ambitions”. There are three priority areas for the charity when considering funding: cancer research, population health and system transformation. These are very broad areas and the charity is always keen to fund projects which have good ideas regardless of the area of research. The charity is funded by an endowment which has been building up over around 100 years, as well as fundraising and donations. Projects recently funded by the charity include the purchase of a 3D scanner for Evelina, the children’s hospital at St Thomas’, to cut down on the time taken to conduct heart surgery by making a model of the heart to practise on prior to the procedure. There is also an initive currently undergoing testing called Transforming Outcomes and Health Econom- ics Through Imaging (TOHETI), which is an initiative which aims to show how better use of imaging tech- nology can improve patient care. This project aims to make imaging technology more accessible to patients by changing the system through which it is provided to them, as well as adjusting how this technology is applied so that it is used to its full potential. A major part of the reason so many ground breaking initiatives come through Guy’s and St Thomas’ is because as a teaching hospital and a tertiary centre it attracts some of the best healthcare staff from around the world which, when combined with an experi- enced and dedicated leadership and the resources to facilitate through testing, gives these staff the ideal environment to develop these innovations. Oliver believes that ultimately, both the Trust and the charity have a vital role to play in the future of the NHS. “As we look to the future of the NHS, clearly times are really tough across the entire system, I think in times like this there is an even greater premium on organisations that are willing to innovate because it is really easy for hospitals to develop a fortress like atti- tude and decide to simply weather the storm and take care of themselves, so I think what the Trust is doing, to ensure it is still innovating and still working with others, is really vital work. The Trust recognises is not a standalone organisation but a part of a wider system and I think the need to still be innovative and search for new ways of doing things in order to help not just itself but the wider NHS, is very admirable.” The charity funds innovative and exciting projects, working close- ly with the Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital Trust to deliver ground breaking new solutions in healthcare. We spoke to Oliver Smith, Director of Strategy and Innovation at the charity, on how the funding works and how the programme has been so successful.