The NHS has innovated since its inception 60 years ago. The first total hip replacement operation was performed in 1962 in Wigan, and today there are 62,000 operations each year. The new duty to promote innovation is designed to move the culture further along the innovation road and encourage people at all levels to think creatively about how things might be done differently.
This guidance document from the Department of Health argues that innovation is not something that happens solely in the laboratory and is delivered by scientists. The most successful and innovative organisations are those that encourage employees to innovate and reward them for doing so. The best innovators aren’t lone geniuses. They’re people who can take an idea that’s obvious in one context and apply it in not-so-obvious ways to a different context.
The role of the strategic health authorities is to create the right context and reinforce the right leadership behaviours to stimulate innovation in frontline organizations. All board members will be responsible for stimulating, supporting and promoting innovation within their region. They should actively support and facilitate the generation of new ideas and the uptake of ideas and processes that have been generated externally or elsewhere in the system. They should reward and recognise efforts within all stages of the innovation pathway.
Each authority will produce an Annual Innovation Report setting out what progress has been made on innovation during that year, what resource has been marshalled and invested, and what impact this has had for patients, staff and organizations.
The Innovation Guidance is available from DoH. http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_098540