NHS needs “a better climate for innovation”

NHS needs “a better climate for innovation”


NHS England's Medical Director states that the NHS needs to create “a better climate for innovation”.

Commenting on the current state of the health service, Bruce Keogh states that the NHS has “a lot of catching up to do” when compared with the private sector, where the quest for innovation has long been hard-wired into working practices. He states that the primary reason for the lag is due to the inability to provide the right conditions for innovation to thrive.


1. Ambiguous Goals

When innovation is attempted in the NHS, it is often in the form of large, complex, overly ambitious projects like the failed National Programme for IT (NPfIT). Despite good intentions, the bar if often set too high, and the ultimate goals can be convoluted, unattainable or ambiguous. Success is most often seen from smaller, modular, discrete projects run by clear leaders who provide a clear set of common objectives, so this is the model that needs to be followed.


2. Lack of Empowerment

Staff at all levels can be excellent resources for innovation, but often there is a lack of clear channels for them to communicate their ideas and inefficient management to escalate these to the appropriate individuals who can action them. Consequently, this can be improved by putting in place organisational structures that ensure staff know where to go when they have an idea and that, when they do, they'll be listened to and heard.


3. Failure to Nurture Talent

The broad spectrum of NHS staff represents a whole variety of individuals who come from different backgrounds, and have the compulsion and the talents to innovate. Recognising the potential of these change agents, and providing them with the motivation and the headroom to express themselves, is crucial for innovation to thrive.


4. Financial Restrictions

There is an overwhelming sense in the NHS that innovation is going to cost more. Keogh states that it is crucial managers rid themselves of this mindset, and focus on areas that will increase quality on equal or lower funds. There may be a higher initial outlay, but this is simple business strategy that is so often neglected in the NHS. The idea of speculating to accumulate can apply as equally here as any other business.


“The good ideas – the new ways of working that will help the NHS remain fit for purpose in challenging times – are out there at the front line. But it will take strong, brave and imaginative leadership to realise their full potential” Keogh says.

Original Source The Guardian

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