Clinicians in the South East of England are the first to pitch their ideas on how to improve primary or community services in the region to a Dragon's Den style panel of judges in the hope of winning cash to implement their proposals.

Up to 13 different teams of GPs, nurses and allied health professionals from each of the 10 Strategic Health Authorities will be competing before the panel for a regional prize of £50,000, in a move designed to ensure front-line participation in driving quality improvements to care.

Business cases will be presented to a panel of experts made up of local NHS professionals, such as directors for finance and innovation, as well as patient representatives, in a series of events around the country, with a final event for each regional winner in London on March 24.

The ideas being put forward by the teams vary greatly in nature, from improving clinical care for patients with heart failure to developing services to support young people who are morbidly obese, depending on what clinicians feel are the greatest priorities in each area.

The winning team from each regions will receive support for a year in order to develop and implement their plans, and it is hoped that all the ideas will be used by new local GP consortia to design services and improve the patient experience, a central target in the government's plans for the health service.

“These challenges are a great way to show off and bring out the new ideas and improvements that I know the NHS has", said Public Health Minister, Anne Milton, commenting on the initiative, and she stressed that in order to improve patient outcomes services must be designed and provided by the people who know the needs of patients best.