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Responding to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been a true test for NHS Scotland; but the ability to adapt and innovate at speed has helped protect the NHS whilst accelerating new ideas and innovations to help improve patient care.

The virus will remain a threat for some time and our NHS must adapt to a new environment and new ways of working, with a focus on treating the virus and remobilising broader health and social care services.  

New phase 2 innovation funding from Scottish Health Innovations Ltd (SHIL) is designed to support NHS Scotland adapt, develop and strengthen in response to COVID-19, using the knowledge, talent and expertise of health and social care professionals across Scotland.

Announcing the new phase of funding, Graham Watson Executive Chairman at SHIL said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic will leave a lasting legacy and our aim is to help the NHS emerge stronger through our ongoing support of NHS-led innovation. This second phase of funding is designed to support the development of innovative solutions identified by health and social care professionals as they adapt to a new environment and new ways of working.”

The package of support for NHS Scotland staff includes up to £25k of initial seed funding, combined with regulatory support, project management and the extensive innovation expertise of SHIL.

All ideas are welcomed – from simple to complex, from all disciplines and from any member of staff - and could include:

  • Disruptive technology or something completely new to improve patient care in this new environment
  • A technology solution reflecting increased use of data driven innovation in healthcare
  • An infection prevention solution such as a new piece of PPE or cleaning solution
  • A new gadget or device reflecting restrictions and risk associated with certain procedures such as aerosol generating procedures
  • An operational solution reflecting altered patient flows, restricted contact, physical distancing measures and the associated impacts
  • Improving the patient experience reflecting possible apprehension on returning to a medical environment or restrictions on visitors
  • Improving mental health and wellbeing reflecting on ongoing challenges for both staff and patients   

The process is designed to be simple, and whilst health and social care professionals are being targeted, students, volunteers, companies and others with innovative ideas that would benefit from collaboration with the NHS can also submit ideas.

Rodney Mountain, ENT surgeon at Ninewells Hospital is currently working with SHIL to develop an innovative CPR resuscitation hood. He comments:

“All parts of NHS are adapting as a consequence of COVID-19. Mouth to mouth and airway resuscitation is an aerosol-generating procedure (AGP) and poses a high risk of infection transmission. Getting full PPE on takes time and can cause delays in initiating airway resuscitation. So within NHS Tayside we have developed a resuscitation hood designed to act as first response protective barrier, applied to the patient while resuscitation personnel don their full PPE, immediately reducing droplet and aerosol spread of blood or fluid borne diseases. It is constructed as a small, lightweight textile hood that integrates a ventilation mask, viral filter and clear plastic barrier between the patient and personnel.

“COVID-19 drove the innovation, but the safety benefits go well beyond COVID, offering an affordable, rapid first response to airway management during CPR for use in a wide range of healthcare settings including hospitals, ambulances, emergency services, GP practices and in the community.

“It is an exciting project developed through a really strong collaboration with NHS, SHIL and manufacturers Keela. I’d really encourage health professionals to think innovatively and look for ways to use the pandemic to drive positive change.”

Since 2002, SHIL has supported over 2000 innovative health ideas, successfully developed and commercialised a variety of products and technologies, helped form 6 new spin-out companies and successfully negotiated multiple commercial license deals with companies, both within the UK and internationally. A collaborative approach ensures projects are managed, in collaboration with the inventor and NHS Scotland Health Board that would otherwise be difficult to balance with clinical or personal commitments.

Robert Rea, Head of Innovation at SHIL comments:

“We received an overwhelming response to our first round of COVID-19 Innovation funding, and have some potentially transformative projects in the final stages of development. This new round of funding recognises the NHS is a very different environment, this is challenging but with this comes an opportunity to innovate, transform and use the crisis for positive change. We know from experience that those on the front-line, are often best placed to come up with ideas to improve patient care and ways of working, and so this funding offers a simple, efficient route to progress their ideas. It underpins our commitment to supporting innovation within the NHS and finding positive solutions from one of the most significant challenges the NHS has ever faced.”

Ideas can be submitted online via

The call will be open until January 2020.

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