The government has announced a prize scheme to encourage the development of innovative solutions to some ofthe most challenging issues facing healthcare today.

As the NHS enters a period where its budget will be stretched furtherthan ever before, delivering more for less and achieving major clinicalbreakthroughs to transform patient outcomes has never been more important, saidHealth Minister Lord Howe, announcingthe NHSInnovation Challenge scheme yesterday.

The Challenge Prizes “will create an open playing field; they have beenshaped to recognise and reward ideas that tackle some of the most challengingareas of healthcare,” said the Minister. “The Challenge Prizes also aim tosupport innovation that is already happening in the NHS, encouraging thedevelopment and spread of new ideas to improve patient care,” he added.

One of the first set of seven specific Challenges announced yesterday willseek ways to reduce avoidable medicines waste by 50% and increase adherence tohigh-cost and critical medicines regimes by 30%.

The Department of Health notes that 700 million prescription itemsdispensed in primary care in England each year cost around £8 billion in total,of which an estimated £100 million-worth of wasted medicines is returned topharmacists for safe disposal. Along with the financial cost, non-adherenceleads to poorer health outcomes and increased hospital admissions.

Medicines supplied from secondary care - on discharge or following anoutpatient or day case attendance - may also lead to waste or be subject tonon-adherence. Moreover, if systems are not effective, medicines provided forpatients in primary care may be disposed of on admission to hospital, it says.

And the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)’sClinical Guideline No 76 – Medicines Adherence – points out that betweenone-third and one-half of medicines prescribed in long-term conditions are notused as recommended.

This Challenge will focus on: - improving adherence in the treatment of conditionssuch as schizophrenia, severe asthma and type 1 diabetes, where poor adherencemay result in rapid deterioration, poor outcome or hospitalization; - improvingadherence to high-cost regimens, where discarding medicines has a significantcost in addition to the lost benefit of treatment; and - avoidable wastethrough addressing the processes and quantities of supply to avoid provision ofmedicines which will never be taken.

The rest of the first set of Challenges relate to: - earlier cancerdiagnosis; - better management of pregnancy; - the reduction of Methicillin-sensitiveStaphylococcus aureus (MSSA) and/or E coli bacteraemias across a healtheconomy; - ensuring that people seeking urgent and emergency care receive thebest care at their first attendance; - and reducing avoidable attendances at GPsurgeries and other primary care settings.

The Challenges will be released on a rolling programme, designed toencourage rapid implementation and spread of innovative projects, and also toallow for the longer timescale often required for major clinical breakthroughs.Throughout the year, more Challenges will be added

The value of the Prizes will vary and reflect the nature of thechallenge and the benefit of the innovation to the NHS and its patients. Allaward winners must demonstrate the innovative value of their ideas to the NHS.

“The NHS is full of brilliant people, with brilliant ideas. Our problemis that we don't always seem able to take those ideas and spread them rapidlyright across the NHS,” said Alasdair Liddell, chair of the Expert Panel, madeup of leading medical scientists, academics, industry experts and innovators,which will judge applications and recommend what awards should be made.

“The Challenge Prize programme will help stimulate new ideas in keypriority areas and ensure they are available for everyday use, benefitingpatients much more quickly," he added.

Govt prize programme for better drug use, other NHS challenges

The government has announced aprize scheme to encourage the development of innovative solutions to some ofthe most challenging issues facing healthcare in the NHS today.

As the NHS enters a period whereits budget will be stretched further than ever before, delivering more for lessand achieving major clinical breakthroughs to transform patient outcomes hasnever been more important, said HealthMinister Lord Howe, announcing the NHSInnovation Challenge schemeyesterday.

The Challenge Prizes “will createan open playing field; they have been shaped to recognise and reward ideas thattackle some of the most challenging areas of healthcare,” said the Minister.“The Challenge Prizes also aim to support innovation that is already happeningin the NHS, encouraging the development and spread of new ideas to improvepatient care,” he added.

One of the first set of sevenspecific Challenges announced yesterday will seek ways to reduce avoidablemedicines waste by 50% and increase adherence to high-cost and criticalmedicines regimes by 30%.

The Department of Health notesthat 700 million prescription items dispensed in primary care in England everyyear cost around £8 billion in total, of which an estimated £100 million-worthof wasted medicines is returned to pharmacists for safe disposal. Along withthe financial cost, non-adherence leads to poorer health outcomes and increasedhospital admissions.

Medicines supplied from secondarycare - on discharge or following an outpatient or day case attendance - mayalso lead to waste or be subject to non-adherence. Moreover, if systems are noteffective, medicines provided for patients in primary care may be disposed ofon admission to hospital, it says.

And the National Institute forHealth and Clinical Excellence (NICE)’s Clinical Guideline No 76 – MedicinesAdherence – points out that between one-third and one-half of medicinesprescribed in long-term conditions are not used as recommended.

This Challenge will focus on: -improving adherence in the treatment of conditions such as schizophrenia,severe asthma and type 1 diabetes, where poor adherence may result in rapiddeterioration, poor outcome or hospitalization; - improving adherence tohigh-cost regimens, where discarding medicines has a significant cost inaddition to the lost benefit of treatment; and - avoidable waste throughaddressing the processes and quantities of supply to avoid provision ofmedicines which will never be taken.

The rest of the first set ofChallenges relate to: - earlier cancer diagnosis; - better management of pregnancy;- the reduction of Methicillin-sensitiveStaphylococcus aureus (MSSA) and/or E coli bacteraemias across a healtheconomy; - ensuring that people seeking urgent and emergency care receive thebest care at their first attendance; - and reducing avoidable attendances at GPsurgeries and other primary care settings.

The Challenges will be releasedon a rolling programme, designed to encourage rapid implementation and spreadof innovative projects, and also to allow for the longer timescale oftenrequired for major clinical breakthroughs. Throughout the year, more Challengeswill be added

The value of the Prizes will varyand reflect the nature of the challenge and the benefit of the innovation tothe NHS and its patients. All award winners must demonstrate the innovativevalue of their ideas to the NHS.

"The NHS is full ofbrilliant people, with brilliant ideas. Our problem is that we don't alwaysseem able to take those ideas and spread them rapidly right across theNHS," said Alasdair Liddell, chair of the Expert Panel, made up of leadingmedical scientists, academics, industry experts and innovators, which willjudge applications and recommend what awards should be made.

"The Challenge Prize programme will helpstimulate new ideas in key priority areas and ensure they are available foreveryday use, benefiting patients much more quickly," he added.