A text messaging service for teenagers run by school nurses at Leicestershire Partnership Trust is one of 13 projects to receive money from a £650,000 NHS innovation prize fund.
The project, called ChatHealth, uses a confidential SMS helpline to provide help and advice to 100,000 11-to-19-year-olds in the local area.
It has won £100,000 – the largest amount on offer to applicants – from the NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes fund to investigate rolling out the system nationally, developing an instant messaging app and using secure video-chat to create self-help discussion forums.
The team behind the project has estimated that just 30 nurses could handle all messages from UK teenagers if every NHS trust adopted a similar model, which would help free up many hours of school nurse time.
“Recognition and reward of local innovations not only promotes further innovation it is an important step in ensuring improvement across our NHS”
Winners were revealed at a ceremony last night, following applications from 340 groups which resulted in 52 being shortlisted.
Other prize recipients included King’s College Hospital for a project which introduced new skill-mixes within teams to bridge gaps between mental, social and clinical care for people with diabetes.
The group set up the project after it identified some type 1 diabetes patients were failing to access services in parts of Lambeth and Southwark due to a combination of depression and social exclusion.
Its scheme, called 3 Dimensions For Diabetes, brings together a psychiatrist, community support workers and trained volunteers with the existing multi-disciplinary diabetes team, to tackle this issue.
The hospital will receive £50,000 to look into expanding the project and testing a new e-learning model that could allow diabetes teams to manage the early symptoms of depression in their patients.
Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s medical director, presented the awards.
He said: “This year the innovation prizes showcase local innovations to improve care through the use of technology, infection control and rehabilitation, along with new ways of helping people with diabetes.
“Recognition and reward of local innovations not only promotes further innovation it is an important step in ensuring improvement across our NHS,” he added.