Skip to content
This website uses cookies to help us understand the way visitors use our website. We can't identify you with them and we don't share the data with anyone else. If you click Reject we will set a single cookie to remember your preference. Find out more in our privacy policy.

Spreading innovation to improve patient safety

17 September 2020 | John Illingworth  🔒
John Illingworth reflects on the achievements of the recipients of last year's Innovation Adoption Fund and shares the opportunity available this year.

Today, 17th September 2020, marks World Patient Safety Day. The theme this year is health worker safety, and never has this been brought into sharper focus than during the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone associated with UCLPartners is indebted to the health and care workers who continue to put themselves on the line in response to the crisis. We are therefore delighted to launch a second round of funding today for our Innovation Adoption Fund, which is focused this time on workforce innovation. Teams can apply for up to £10,000 to adopt or spread an innovation or improvement intervention. The deadline for applications is 15th October 2020. Click here to find out more information.

Today also provides an opportune moment to highlight the achievements and learning from teams who were awarded funding from last year’s round, which was focused on patient safety. The fund was set up to support teams not to invent new ideas, but to help them overcome the barriers that get in the way of implementing ideas that had already been put into practice successfully elsewhere. We recognise that even with additional funding, this is by no means straight-forward; it often requires significant resource, creativity and adaptation to make innovations work in a new setting.

Despite the challenges of implementation, combined with the impact of COVID-19, there have been some fantastic achievements from the 2019 cohort. For example, a team from Whittington Health NHS Trust introduced a programme to train health care assistants (HCAs) to provide one-to-one care for vulnerable or critically ill patients in hospital – care that is typically given by nurses. The funding provided by UCLPartners was used to develop and deliver a pilot training programme to a cohort of HCAs, focusing on the fundamentals of care, such as managing challenging behaviour and eating and drinking, as well as on specialised topics such as delirium.

Following the pilot, the team secured approval to establish a permanent enhanced care team, meaning that that there are now 13 whole-time equivalent HCAs in post, with a further 10 about to be recruited.

Sita Chitambo, Associate Director of Nursing at Whittington Health NHS Trust said: “The support gained from UCLPartners has helped us retain focus on the quality benefits of this project as well as realise the huge opportunity for improvement. Not only has feedback on the training element been amazingly positive – but this has helped the Trust identify a much more stable method, increase data quality, bring down costs and improve quality of care for patients.”

The programme has led to a 44% reduction in agency staff usage, resulting in significant cost savings as well as increased confidence and satisfaction amongst the HCA workforce. The training has also inspired some HCAs to apply for nurse training posts.

Highlights from the other projects in the 2019/20 Innovation Adoption Fund include:

  • A team from Barnet Hospital implemented the Family Integrated Care programme to transform the care of babies in the neonatal unit, making parents the primary caregivers in partnership with clinicians. The Starlight Team has continued to proactively support parents of babies on the neonatal ward during the COVID-19 pandemic, producing a short film offering peer support advice to parents.
  • A team from Royal Free Hospital implemented a new pathway to improve the management of women suffering from post-partum haemorrhage. The work they did led to a 33% improvement in compliance for measuring blood loss, helping major haemorrhages to be identified early and managed appropriately.
  • A team from Princess Alexandra Hospital introduced a procalcitonin test to improve the management of patients with suspected sepsis in the Emergency Department, educating 300 staff and performing data analysis on over 1200 patients to support decisions to stop unnecessary antibiotic usage. See how this worked contributed to their trust-wide work to improve outcomes for patients with suspected sepsis.
  • A team from Homerton Hospital introduced an “electronic whiteboard” to enable better detection of patients at risk of deterioration, which was modified during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide a real-time visual representation of which patients had been screened for the virus and the results of the test.

You can hear first-hand the difference that the Fund made to the care provided to patients in this video, including the Quality Improvement support provided by the UCLPartners team, as well as the protected time and space, and external endorsement, that can accelerate the implementation of an idea.

If you have a question about this year’s fund, or would like more information about the projects delivered by last year’s award holders, please email We look forward to your applications.

Hear about the difference that the Fund made to the care provided to patients