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NHS at 72 - commitment and dedication in response to COVID-19 image

2020 marks the 72nd Anniversary of the NHS which was founded on 5 July 1948. This year also marks the 72nd year of social care services.

The Anniversary offers the opportunity for staff, patients and the public to mark the past 72 years and to look forward to the needs of future generations and what health and care will look like in the future.

Innovation in NHS Scotland

Over the last 72 years, the accomplishments, innovations and breakthroughs made in the NHS have completely transformed modern medicine. Significant developments such as ultrasound scanners, MRI, the first UK transplant, keyhole surgery, the Glasgow Coma Scale outline just a few of the discoveries originating in Scotland; helping to transform the lives of patients around the world. 

During this time, ideas from health professionals within NHS Scotland have also contributed to improvements in patient care. For example, the i-limb, a sophisticated electrically-powered prosthetic, is part of the story of Touch Bionics - the first SHIL spin-out company in 2002. Starting as an idea from David Gow in NHS Lothian, Touch Bionics went onto become a world-leading provider of prosthetic technologies and supporting services designed to ensure the best possible outcomes for people with upper limb deficiencies. The company was sold to Ossur in 2016 and continues to provide world-leading prosthetic technologies and supporting services. 

Since this first spin out, innovative ideas from health professionals across Scotland has resulted in: 

  • development and commercialisation of a variety of products and technologies including Rhinopinch®, the Adult SCRAM™ Bag,the Patient Transfer Scale and many more
  • launch of an additional 5 new spin-out companies including Aridhia, Clear Surgical and Aurum Biosciences
  • successful negotiation of over 25 commercial license deals with companies both within the UK and internationally
  • protection of the Intellectual Property, Trademark, Copyright and Design Right for over 250 NHS inventions.

Such developments are only possible by harnessing the talent and expertise within NHS Scotland and combining with the commercial accumen of SHIL. 

With over 160,000 staff working across NHS Scotland we are fortunate to have not only a dedicated workforce providing high-quality healthcare across Scotland but also a rich resource of ideas and innovations to improve patient care. 

However, translating innovative products from original idea to widespread adoption requires a range of skills, many of which are not readily available within each individual health board.

SHIL therefore offers a range of expert services including intellectual property advice and protection, regulatory affairs, project management, idea incubation, funding advice, development and commercialisation, and post-commercialisation monitoring; to translate innovative ideas into viable products and services to improve patient care. 

COVID-19 response

Never has there been a more urgent time to accelerate new ideas and innovations. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to rapid change in the NHS – and to ensure the ideas, innovations and solutions that occur during times of challenge are captured, developed and made available to support the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19), SHIL launched a dedicated COVID-19 innovation call in early April 2020.

The call was designed to harness the knowledge and expertise of health and social care professionals, and even under significant pressure in responding to the crisis, the workforce have demonstrated their unrivalled ability to come up with a great range of innovative ideas and solutions.

Submissions for the month of April increasing by 560% compared to the same period last year, and have included a mixture of ideas relating to PPE, disinfection, test kits, ventilators, vaccines, pharmaceuticals, mental health, telehealth/monitoring, tracking and others, which are now being assessed, protected and developed. 

Ongoing commitment

Whilst patient numbers are declining, COVID-19 continues to pose a serious threat to public health in Scotland.

However as we look to the future and use the framework set out by Scottish Government, a new set of challenges will emerge moving from fight to recovery; and the support of SHIL will transition to best support this next stage, underlining innovation as an integral part of our NHS.

Thank you

A huge thank you to all health and social care staff working across the system in the fight against COVID-19 and to patients and the public – your support is vital.

In celebrating 72 years of the NHS we remain as committed as ever to ensuring NHS Scotland provides the right environment to support innovation with an empowered workforce continually driving improvements in the quality and value of patient care.

Further information and get involved

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