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'Let us know what helps and hinders nurse innovation'

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Innovation is something we all like to promote, aspire to and be associated with – whatever sector we work in. And nowhere is this more true than in healthcare.

Indeed, the word appears 41 times in The NHS Long Term Plan, which sets out the vision for the health service in England over the next decade.

The Oxford dictionary defines innovation as “the introduction of new things, ideas or ways of doing something”. But for me the word means more than this. It also sounds like progress and the future and something generally better.

Innovation in healthcare can mean many things, for example new computer and communications technology, drugs and other treatments and the way overarching systems are organised. But it can also mean a new way of working or doing something, a new type of clinic or service, a new role, or a piece of equipment that fills a gap in need.

As we know from the strength of entries to the Nursing Times Awards each year, nurses are excellent innovators. We have just published the shortlist for this year’s awards – you can check out the list here– and look forward to celebrating nurse innovation when we announce the winners in November.

Meanwhile, when chairing a Nursing Times Careers Live job fair recently in London I met one of our speakers, Gillian Taylor. She came up with the idea of the Patient Transfer Scale – a unique device for weighing immobile patients – while working in emergency care for NHS Lanarkshire.

“We at Nursing Times understand how important it is for the nursing profession to innovate” 

As reported by Nursing Times last year, Ms Taylor worked out that the process of obtaining an accurate weight reading for immobile patients could be simplified if they were weighed while being transferred from trolley to bed.

Her brilliant idea for a transfer board with a built-in weighing scale is now in use at an increasing number of hospitals around the UK – but this would not have happened without Ms Taylor’s personal energy, enthusiasm and never-say-die attitude.

We at Nursing Times understand how important it is for the nursing profession to innovate; this vital work ultimately improves patient care and makes life better for nurses themselves.

But we also realise that innovation isn’t easy. A host of factors can prevent a good idea – that famous lightbulb moment – from becoming reality – such as lack of time, staff shortages or organisational cultures that stifle innovation.

Healthcare settings, by their very nature, can be quite hierarchical and based on rules. However, without innovation little progress can be made and care cannot improve.

That is why we are undertaking a survey that seeks to gain nurses’ views about both the barriers and opportunities that exist for listening to and acting on the new ideas of frontline workers.

Essentially the aim of the survey is to find out more about what prevents nurses from innovating, what support they need to do so, and how to get their message out there when they have innovated.

We are working on the survey with innovation charity Nesta, which will announce the results at its annual conference in July.

As well as forming the basis of a session at the conference, the findings will be reported in Nursing Times.

You have until the end of this week to complete the survey; with only six multiple-choice questions it should take less than five minutes to complete.

We hope the survey will give us an evidence base to use as a platform to campaign in future to make it easier for nurses to innovate. Please help us to help you to innovate and improve care.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • There have been numerous innovations by Managers in the N.H.S. over many years, none of which I think have been subject to rigorous evaluation. Any resulting from Nurses suggestions should be so subjected.

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