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SHIL Christmas message 2020

SHIL Christmas message 2020 image

Graham Watson, Executive Chairman at Scottish Health Innovations Ltd (SHIL) reflects on 2020 as a true test for NHS Scotland; but a remarkable year for transformation, collaboration and innovation

Reflecting on 2020 it has been an exceptional year, with huge personal and professional challenges, but the expertise and agility of teams across Scotland reflect the amazing diversity of talent and commitment within our NHS.

The ability to adapt and innovate at speed has helped to protect the NHS while accelerating new ideas and innovations to help improve patient care. The transformation within the health service has been quite remarkable; and since the emergence of the pandemic early in 2020, SHIL has sought to use our experience of driving NHS-led innovation to support the response.

Whilst fully aware of the pressures health and social care staff were under as the pandemic gained momentum during March and April, we also knew their knowledge, insight and expertise would provide important ideas and solutions.

As such we launched our first COVID-19 innovation call in April 2020 and the response was overwhelming, with a 560% increase in submissions on the same period in 2019. Ideas ranged from PPE, disinfection, test kits, ventilators, vaccines, pharmaceuticals, mental health, telehealth/monitoring, tracking and others. These ideas are rapidly assessed to ensure they have development potential. It means we don’t duplicate a product or service already available or one where the costs or technical feasibility are unmanageable. We also build on established links across Scotland – health boards, Universities, industry and development agencies to draw on additional knowledge and experience. A number of these have been supported through development including:

  • Coronex, a new company set up in April 2020 to bring together healthcare experts from Scottish and UK based biotechnology firms and NHS Scotland, together with Scottish investors. The team has worked collaboratively on the development of a novel lateral flow test kit architecture for detecting COVID-19 antibodies. The technology has been developed and tested over six months on a cohort of COVID-19 samples and has now been submitted for patent protection. 
  • An innovative CPR resuscitation hood device, designed by clinicians in NHS Tayside to facilitate a rapid first response to airway management during CPR and protect healthcare personnel from viruses such as COVID-19, is nearing launch in early 2021 following a rapid development, prototype, testing and manufacturing process.

Based on the success of the first call, and reflecting on the evolution of the pandemic, a Phase 2 COVID-19 Innovation call launched in September. This call reflected the changes to the NHS – increased use of technology such as remote consultations, social distancing, infection prevention measures – and the need to focus on both treating the virus and remobilising broader health and social care services. Again, a great response from health and social care professionals across Scotland has been achieved and we will close this call on 31 January 2021.

Throughout the pandemic the spirit of determination, collaboration and support has been testament to the respect and appreciation we all have for our NHS; and everyone working within it, and underlines innovation as an integral part of our NHS.

Despite the challenges and focus of COVID-19, we have also maintained our commitment to non COVID-19 projects with a number of positive announcements made throughout the year:

During difficult times it is important to acknowledge achievements and draw motivation from this success. We cannot underestimate the challenges faced as we move into 2021 but we can draw some comfort from the energy, resilience and commitment demonstrated so far.

On behalf of the SHIL team, best wishes for a safe and healthy festive season, and we look forward to working with you all again in 2021.

Watch our festive thank you message.

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