by Denise Puckett, Head of Health & Social Care

To be successful in innovation you need conviction, tenacity and an environment that is supportive.  You may be representing a health board looking to deliver improved patient centric services more efficiently. Perhaps you are an entrepreneur with a health care idea that you are trying to get to market, or just perhaps, you are the frontline worker dealing with the same problem, over and over again, and it prevents you from giving the best service or care that you can. Whatever stakeholder you are in the Welsh health and social care system, you need innovation and determination to succeed. While this quality drives your innovation passion, the innovation path is never smooth, so a support network is a valuable asset that improves your chances of success. Partnership is often the key.

Life Sciences Hub Wales’ new Innovation Network for Health and Social Care in Wales, delivered in partnership with the Welsh Government, is designed to provide a forum where ideas can be shared, barriers overcome and innovation championed.  

Innovation is Rarely Smooth

It took James Dyson 15 years and 5,127 prototypes to get his original idea for a vacuum cleaner to the market in 1993. “Everyone gets knocked back, no one rises smoothly to the top without hindrance. The ones who succeed are those who say, right, let’s give it another go,” said James Dyson. Innovation is a frustrating process littered with backward steps. Thomas Edison, famously said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that did not work.”  The complex landscape of healthcare in Wales presents a range of additional challenges even before the funding and testing of an innovative concept. Enabling and permitting the workforce to openly and safely state that something doesn’t work, or that it could be done better is our first step. Welcoming challenge in a safe environment will encourage staff to be brave about suggesting their ideas and discussing the issues they face. The journey of getting innovation adopted and scaled throughout the system can be an arduous slow process requiring agile innovators to fuse ambition with patience, and the requirement of expanded trust and pace across and within the health and care system.

Innovation Champions United

Innovation is a significant theme within ‘A Healthier Wales‘ – Wales‘ long term plan for Health and Social Care. We are proud that Vaughan Gething AM, Minister for Health and Social Services launched our Innovation network this Spring. “An important characteristic of ‘A Healthier Wales’ is engagement and co-production. It is important that all of our innovation programmes are complemented by engagement and partnership, which is why I am pleased to launch a Welsh health and social care innovation network led by the Life Sciences Hub Wales. This network will bring together champions, on an all-Wales basis, to source, share and showcase good practice around health and care innovation and to support scale up of innovative activity, “ said Vaughan.

The innovation network is designed to facilitate innovative partnerships between public, private and third sectors fostering the conditions and environment required for innovation. Often we see the health and social care system in Wales pushed to its limits, working harder but not smarter. Innovation requires time to develop and implement, whether this is innovative approaches or new technologies. Finding the time for innovation is important and our network creates the innovation space required. It protects the time and attention needed to meet, discuss and break down barriers to create and adopt solutions that transform health and care in the future.

An Appetite for Innovation

The launch of the network saw a wide range of delegates from across the Welsh health and care sector come together to consider innovation, the benefits it is delivering and the culture required to see it flourish. As our launch event progressed it became increasingly clear that the appetite for innovation across the Welsh health and care system is huge, with an increasing imperative to deliver patient centred care in a tightening resource environment. The fast pace of technology and digital change is already delivering advanced data management, virtual reality pain management and nurse training flexibility. It was also evident that current and future effective innovation requires partnership between different organisations to deliver a much more holistic approach.

Join our Network

Our new innovation network is designed to make that support easier to find, to help champions share success stories and approaches to stimulate new improved models of care. Our network seeks to foster the ability to disseminate innovation good practice across Wales helping successful innovations to become adopted at pace. It provides a forum to presenting opportunities for new innovative ideas to solve the problems facing health and care across Wales.

At the heart of the innovation network are its members. Our Innovation Champions include NHS Wales CEOs, Board members, leading experts and VIPs from academia, Government and industry. Our Executive Leads group is made up of:  Care Directors; people responsible for innovation within the health boards and social care; senior staff from academia, public and third sector organisations, Welsh Government and industry. Our Practitioners group will contain NHS and Social Care staff who are innovating within their own areas, Bevan Innovation Exemplars and innovators from industry and academia.

We would love to hear from you if you would like to join the network and look forward to meeting you at our first quarterly forum event in June.