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Patients to benefit from 22 innovations that improve care and accelerate a greener NHS

25 April 2024

SBRI Healthcare, an Accelerated Access Collaborative initiative, in partnership with the Greener NHS programme and Health Innovation Network, has awarded £3.2 million to 22 innovations that aim to improve patient care and save money whilst also making the NHS greener.

Climate change is a threat to global health, with more than 13 million deaths around the world each year due to avoidable environmental causes. Air pollution alone accounts for up to 38,000 deaths a year in the UK, and contributes toward increased cases of asthma, cancer and heart disease (WHO, 2022).

In October 2020, the NHS became the first health service in the world to commit to reaching net zero with the 'Delivering a net zero NHS' report and then the Health and Care Act in July 2022 introduced net zero into legislation in the NHS.

Innovations across the NHS are already playing a critical role in helping to achieve net zero goals, while continuing to improve standards of care for patients, and increase efficiencies and productivity.

Nineteen projects have collectively been awarded £1.7 million through SBRI Healthcare ‘Competition 24: Delivering a Net Zero NHS for a Healthier Future’ to enable clinical engagement and pathway transformation towards lower carbon care models, as well as novel business models to enable circularity in perioperative and critical care settings.

Three more projects have been awarded combined funding of £1.5 million through ‘Competition 22 Delivering a Net Zero NHS Clinical Innovation, Phase 2’ for the development of prototypes and evaluation before real-world implementation. The three Phase 2 projects had previously received Phase 1 funding.

The innovations include an automated system that can pre-clean a set of surgical instruments in two minutes, the mapping and carbon modelling of the maternity care pathway, and an Environmental Sustainability ‘Recipe Book’ to reduce the carbon footprint of intensive care units in the UK.

Verena Stocker, Interim Director of Research, Life Sciences and Strategy, NHS England and Chief Executive Officer, Accelerated Access Collaborative, said:

“The SBRI Healthcare awards help the NHS to develop new technologies and solutions to address some of the biggest healthcare challenges facing society. We have selected these innovations because they have the potential to make a big difference to patients while also helping to achieve a net zero NHS. By supporting the most promising innovations the NHS will continue to evolve, helping meet more patients’ needs and encouraging more innovators to come forward with ideas that make a difference.”

Competition 24, Phase 1 awarded projects:

Brighton and Sussex Medical School – awarded £99,493 - Novel methods for decontamination enabling reuse of airway devices

Our project will test new methods of decontaminating airway devices onsite so that they can be re-used safely whilst reducing the carbon cost significantly. These new methods will use ultraviolet radiation or a chemical, hydrogen peroxide, to destroy germs which may still be on the device after washing with water. To make sure these methods are safe for patients we will test how well the devices are cleaned using a specialist method to test for the presence of germs in very low numbers.

Labcycle Ltd – awarded £99,992 - From waste to products: a pioneering circular economy model for research and healthcare systems

Decontamination and recycling of single-use plastics from the NHS at a regional pilot site, and use of high-grade recycled polymers to manufacture lab/medical-grade consumables in a circular economy approach.

Mackwell Health Ltd – awarded £98,193 - Point-of-Care Medical Device Re-Use via Ultraviolet LED Decontamination

A new safe, evidence-based process based around UVC LED germicidal radiation to enable re-use of Medical Devices (MDs), close to the point of care, offering a more sustainable alternative for cleaning and decontamination.

Rewire Rehab Ltd - awarded £43,756 - Using Rewire, a neurorehabilitation app, to reduce the carbon footprint of a community stroke rehabilitation service

Rewire is an app that delivers personalised neurorehabilitation, giving stroke survivors the capability to rehabilitate in the absence of a physiotherapist or occupational therapist.

Care Without Carbon, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust – awarded £92,550 - Delivering a low carbon neurorehabilitation pathway

Virtual care offers many benefits from improved care pathways and patient experience to reduced travel needs with attendant reductions in emissions. The development of a virtual neurorehabilitation care model maximises the wider sustainability benefits of virtual consultations, with findings applicable to other care pathways.

Tiny Medical Apps Ltd – awarded £61,036 - Patient Led Asthma Inhaler Net zero Initiative (PLAIN I)

The primary aim of our project is to empower asthma patients to make environmentally responsible choices about their inhalers, thereby reducing the carbon footprint associated with asthma treatment.

Tiny Air Limited – awarded £100,000 - Transforming surgical instrument decontamination towards carbon negative operating theatres

An automated system to pre-clean a set of surgical instruments in two minutes. The system uses cold water only with no detergent and eliminates contaminated aerosols, reducing hazards and protecting the workforce. It reduces rewash, integrates into decontamination unit workflow, and helps to prevent Hospital Acquired Infections, improving cleaning efficacy and efficiency and increasing sterile services production and capacity.

Care Without Carbon, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust – awarded £81,893 - Digital Green Impact Assessment Tool

With 80% of our carbon footprint determined by clinical decision making, it’s critical that we integrate sustainability into day-to-day thinking. This digital Green Impact Assessment tool helps staff to understand and minimise the environmental impact of their project, policy or service in an easy-to-use online environment.

Blüm Health – awarded £89,000 - Diagnostic Optimisation: A digital platform to support efficient test selection

DiagOp aims to map laboratory demand and reduce costs by identifying unwarranted service demand. It aims to discover if the reduction of unwarranted demand could lead to improved service quality and reduce pressures on diagnostic services without buying cheaper products, whilst evidencing carbon reduction.

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust – awarded £88,987 - Support of PiP adoption at scale within a UK healthcare setting

The PiP (Pee-in-Pot) is a sustainable and innovative urine collection vessel used to collect a mid-stream urine specimen that saves on direct and indirect costs and produces a significant carbon saving.

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust – awarded £62,749 - Show Me Your Meds Please

“Show me your meds please” is a new model of care asking a simple screening question, during routine home visits by community staff, and provides the potential for a large reduction in medicines waste with subsequent environmental and cost saving benefits, along with improved individualised patient care.

Tunley Environmental – awarded £99,192 - Pressure Ulcer Clinical Pathway Aid (PU-CPA)

The Pressure Ulcer Clinical Pathway Aid (PU-CPA) project developed by Tunley Environmental aims to develop an AI model that will act as a predictive tool to aid healthcare decisions for management and prevention of pressure ulcers. The tool will use basic patient data to recommend an effective, low-carbon, cost-efficient clinical end-to-end pathway, while reporting metrics, providing tailored and efficient care.

Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – awarded £96,106 - Transforming Prostate Cancer Monitoring Services to a Low-Carbon Future

Trialling the use of at-home finger prick blood tests for prostate cancer patients, creating a more sustainable and convenient experience.

The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare Ltd – awarded £99,910 - Taking collective action to deliver low carbon, equitable maternity care

The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare will partner with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Sustainable Healthcare Coalition (SHC) to map and carbon model the maternity care pathway. The project will identify hotspots where carbon and health inequity can be tackled. It will actively test changes and pathway guidance will be produced.

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust – awarded £98,406 - Developing a Green Sustainability Framework for NHS Elective Surgical Hubs

The NHS Elective Surgical Hubs provide high-volume low-complexity surgery to patients across England. This project aims to develop a framework for surgical hubs to measure their ‘environmental impact’ across the entire patient journey. The Key Performance Indicators developed can be used as a benchmark quantifying sustainability performance, allowing the impact of subsequent quality improvement projects to be objectively measured. The high-level nature of these metrics will also allow a comparison in sustainability performance between surgical hubs and enable different centres to share good practice.

University of Brighton – awarded £98,125 - The development, evaluation and dissemination of an environmental sustainability recipe book to reduce the carbon footprint of intensive care

This project aims to develop, evaluate and disseminate an Intensive Care Environmental Sustainability Recipe Book to reduce the carbon footprint of intensive care units in the UK. The project is a collaboration between the University of Brighton, Intensive Care Society, Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine and UK Critical Care Nursing Alliance.

Students Organising for Sustainability UK – awarded £62,552 - Net Zero Dentistry from the inside out: Engaging the dental sector with the Green Impact Dentistry toolkit

The project aims to increase engagement with the Green Impact sustainability toolkit across primary care dental practices to support meaningful and measurable carbon reductions in the dental sector, and allow Integrated Care Boards to use the toolkit as a mechanism for regional carbon reduction and monitoring.

Greener Practice C.I.C. - awarded £99,193 - Off the Shelf Net Zero Platform for Primary Care

Greener Practice C.I.C. is a community interest company and the UK’s primary care sustainability network. The aim of our project is to engage and equip busy health professionals in General Practice to implement carbon reductions in clinical activity through “off-the-shelf” quality improvement (QI) projects available through a web-platform.

Redmoor Health Limited – awarded £97,459 - Primary Care Route to Net Zero

The Net Zero Journey Planner is a sector specific change management tool to support general practices by raising awareness, educating, and supporting them to measure, plan and generate implementation for their NHS Net Zero decarbonisation roadmap.

The Competition 22, Phase 2 awarded projects are:

Revolution-Zero Group Ltd – awarded £500,000 - ZERO-DECON: Net Zero healthcare textile processing

Revolution-ZERO are developing an advanced technology suite that will enable low carbon and lower cost processing of medical textiles utilising novel chemistry and protocols for processing paired with state of the art disinfection, cleaning and process validation techniques.

Walk With Path Limited – awarded £499,750 - A sensor-rich haptic wearable and advanced telemedicine platform to prevent diabetic foot ulcers and reduce carbon footprint

Path Active is a smart insole which monitors foot temperature and pressure to predict and prevent diabetic foot ulcers. Our project aims to reduce Path Active's carbon footprint and evaluate the effect Path Active's rollout would have on the NHS’s carbon footprint using data from rural and urban areas.

Definition Health Limited – awarded £499,376 - Carbon reduction through a personalised surgical journey

The study’s aim is to use the Total Digital Surgery Platform in a pilot of Orthopaedic surgery at University Hospitals Sussex to digitise the entire patient pathway from first referral to discharge. This will create ‘Green Patients’ whose new pathway is predominantly digital, allowing carbon reduction at each patient touchpoint.

About SBRI Healthcare
SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative) Healthcare provides funding and support to innovators to develop solutions that tackle existing unmet needs faced by the NHS. The programme aims to improve patient care, increase efficiency in the NHS, and support the UK economy. The programme provides funding and support to early-stage projects enabling testing for business feasibility and technology development, as well as to more mature products to support real world implementation studies. SBRI Healthcare is funded by the Accelerated Access Collaborative and delivered in partnership with the Health Innovation Network.

About the Accelerated Access Collaborative
The Accelerated Access Collaborative is a unique partnership between patient groups, government bodies, industry and the NHS. It delivers ambitious programmes to ensure the NHS is in the best place to improve patient outcomes and reduce health inequalities through research and innovation. It does this by identifying the best new medicines, medical devices, diagnostics and digital products. It supports providers and integrated care systems to make them available to patients as quickly as possible. In addition, the AAC supports increasing participation in research and access to research trials. Over 1.6 million patients have benefited from its programmes to date, helping patients spend over 278,000 fewer days in hospital and saving the NHS over £185 million.

About the Health Innovation Network
There are 15 health innovation networks across England, established by NHS England in 2013 to spread innovation at pace and scale – improving health and generating economic growth. Each health innovation network works across a distinct geography serving a different population in each region. As the only bodies that connect NHS and academic organisations, local authorities, the third sector and industry, health innovation networks are catalysts that create the right conditions to facilitate change across whole health and social care economies, with a clear focus on improving outcomes for patients.

Building a greener NHS
The NHS contributes to around 4% of UK emissions and accounts for 3.5% of all road transport in England. In October 2020, the NHS became the world's first health service to commit to reaching net zero, in response to the profound and growing threat to health posed by climate change. The "Delivering a Net Zero Health Service" report sets out a clear ambition and two evidence-based targets. With patient care the priority for everything it does, the NHS is using innovation to not only reduce the impact on the environment, but also improve patient care -- and in many cases cut costs.


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