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Darzi's challenge offers £20m for public health push

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NHS staff and members of the public have a chance to win part of a £20 million pot aimed at tackling key health issues facing the nation, it has emerged.

The ‘Innovation Challenge’ from health minister Lord Darzi is offering cash prizes for ideas widely adopted throughout the NHS that go towards solving the biggest issues in healthcare, such as childhood obesity, MRSA, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The fund is being launched alongside a £220 million innovation drive from the NHS. The move will see England’s 10 Strategic Health Authorities each receive £2 million this year, and £5 million in each of the following four years to support frontline NHS staff in developing innovative ideas.

Despite the NHS now having to find efficiency savings of £2.3 billion this year alone following Chancellor Alistair Darling’s latest Budget, the Government believes that healthcare standards can improve during the recession if the 1.3 million workers employed by the NHS put their minds together and think of innovative new ways to tackle old problems.

The specific area of the first year’s challenge will be announced later this summer, by an ‘Innovation Panel’ made up of experts, NHS staff and members of the public. The Panel will be chaired by world renowned academic Professor Sir John Bell and will be advised by innovator Trevor Baylis.

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