By Anne Blackwood, Chief Executive at Health Tech Enterprise
When people are asked about their thoughts on the NHS, their initial response often reflects a deep affection for the people who work in it. It’s not surprising, considering that most of us encounter the NHS during our most vulnerable moments, where we consistently find exceptional care and expertise provided by front-line staff.
However, if asked, how many people in the general population would consider the NHS a hub of innovation? As the NHS celebrates it’s seventy-fifth anniversary, it is crucial to pause and remind ourselves that the spirit of innovation, which gave rise to the establishment of a unique healthcare service accessible to all, is thriving within the organisation.
Today, within the NHS, there are countless innovators diligently working, as evidenced by the 2400 innovation disclosures received by Health Tech Enterprise from NHS staff since we started providing innovation management services in 2004. This pioneering spirit has permeated throughout the entire history of the NHS, leading to the creation of hundreds of life-saving and life-altering technologies, many of which continue to be widely utilised today.
Regrettably, it is widely accepted that NHS has been slow to adopt new innovations at scale. Suppliers face the challenge of navigating a fragmented marketplace without a clear path to reach their target audience, budget divisions that hinder buyers’ ability to directly realize savings, and a short-term focus on immediate cost reductions at the expense of long-term benefits.
However, in celebration of this significant milestone in the NHS’s journey, we have curated a selection of the most transformative technologies developed or first implemented in clinical settings within the NHS over the past seventy-five years. While this list remains subjective, it underscores the pressing need for ongoing support for innovation from policymakers, not only through funding but also through the redesigning of services and care pathways to facilitate the swift adoption of the most promising new technologies.