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UK Space Agency

Up to £4 million available for as many as four applications of technology originally designed for space that could improve NHS treatment. A search for hi-tech solutions to the major health and care challenges facing the NHS in its 70th anniversary year is underway with up to £4 million from the UK Space Agency.

In the joint initiative with NHS England, Innovators will bid for money to turn technology originally designed for space, from exploration to satellite communications, into medical applications that improve NHS treatment and care.

NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens outlined four challenges in his speech to the NHS Confederation conference earlier this month:

Paramedic's idea reduces time wastingA senior paramedic’s light-bulb moment that has cut A&Es visits from “frequent callers” by up to 90% is being rolled out across the country. The High Intensity User programme was the brainchild of Rhian Monteith, who was working as an advanced paramedic in Blackpool when she noticed that a very small group of people took up a great deal of NHS resources and staff time. Working with other NHS teams, Rhian drew up a list of 23 patients, many suffering from mental health problems or loneliness, who had visited A&E 703 times in the previous three months, mostly by ambulance.

Rhian decided to tackle their problems by meeting for coffee and a chat. Through personal mentoring and one-to-one coaching, as well as getting them involved with community activities, and encouraging them to phone her rather than call 999, Rhian helped A&E attendances, 999 calls and hospital admissions drop by about 90 per cent among the group. Eventually the patients were able to cope for themselves and came to call Rhian less often.

Heart operationThis new NHS scheme delivers improvements in patient care by cutting bureaucracy for clinicians and other innovators and encouraging uptake through the NHS.

NHS England has also announced a nationally backed trial of a technology to cut missed hospital appointments, ‘DrDoctor’, as well as a further £1.5 million to pump prime the spread of innovations.

Student studying STEM subjects in NHSTV doctors Rosemary Leonard, Ellie Cannon and Sara Kayat will return to the classroom to promote careers in the NHS and encourage young people to take up science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

As part of plans to mark the NHS’s 70th birthday, the media medics and other high-profile speakers have volunteered their time to visit secondary schools and colleges in England this summer and help recruit the workforce of the future.

They will also talk to pupils about the importance of studying STEM subjects which are needed to take up many of the key roles in the NHS including dentists, doctors, nurses, midwives and paramedics as well as scientific and engineering roles outside the health service.

multi-parametric MRI The NHS has adopted new scanning technology which it claims can slash diagnosis times for prostate cancer, while also reducing the risk of sepsis.

Using multi-parametric MRI (mpMRI) scanning technology – which offer a superior-quality image to current scanners – men can have a scan, receive their results and have any necessary biopsy in a day, rather than over multiple outpatient visits spanning four to six weeks via the traditional method.

The improved quality of the scans makes targeting growths on the prostate far more accurate. Currently, a biopsy may require a dozen samples having to be taken in order to locate suspect growths on the prostate.

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