• The Health Foundation have commissioned an independent evaluation of the NHS Innovation Accelerator Programme (NIA).
  • The Institute for Employment Studies will undertake the evaluation.
  • The study will conclude in July 2017.

The aim of the NIA is to deliver on the commitment detailed within the Five Year Forward View - creating the conditions and cultural change necessary for proven innovations to be adopted faster and more systematically through the NHS, and to deliver examples into practice for demonstrable patient and population benefit.

The NIA is hosted by UCLPartners in collaboration with The Health Foundation, Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) across the country and NHS England. A call for applications from prospective NHS Innovation Accelerator Fellows was launched by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director NHS England on the 7th January 2015. The first cohort of 17 Fellows were appointed on the basis of having a set of values and passion for taking a high impact innovation to benefit more people and a wider population, and a willingness to generate system-wide learnings through sharing their experiences of diffusing innovations. The Fellows are supported by a learning programme to take their innovations to a larger number of patients at greater pace. There are a wide range of innovations that have been funded through the programme and these include IT platforms, devices, models of care and training. 

Our aim in commissioning the evaluation is to determine outcomes of the NIA support programme and the propensity for impact of the innovations delivered. It is vital that the evaluation demonstrates and evidences the success and challenges of the programme in translating innovation into practice. Learning from the evaluation will be directed to the next cohort, will support future sustainability of the innovations and in turn enable the best interventions to be developed and refined for patient benefit.

The Institute for Employment Studies has extensive experience in health care research and evaluation including studies relating to effective practice in management and leadership programmes and organisational diffusion of innovations. The study will conclude in July 2017.


John Simpson

Read this and, if you of a mind, weep.

I put an innovation through this year's NIA process (2016-17). These are the key points made by the NIA (exact words and phrases used).

1. I was shortlisted with the following feedback:

‘A good, patient-centred innovation that has the potential to improve screening for foot problems in people with diabetes and therefore reduce preventable foot ulceration and amputation, which are expensive for the NHS and devastating for patients.

2. After being shortlisted, I was then interviewed by a panel and the following feedback was provided to me afterwards and following subsequent discussion when I was not present:

‘Following the interview panel, all comments were fed into a decision making panel, chaired by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh and made up of the 11 AHSN partners, patient representatives and the Health Foundation' [yes, your very own organization!]

‘Simple, inexpensive product addressing a clear need that was supported by the panel [and] a great innovation.

‘Passionate, tenacious applicant [me] demonstrating compelling belief in the innovation.’

Strangely, perversely even, I was not selected for an NIA fellowship and my high impact 'great innovation' appears not to have been taken forward yet it is separately going through the NICE MTEP process. My 'inexpensive' innovation could punch a big hole in £700 million annual expenditure in NHS England on diabetic foot disease. You might like to find out why because I am afraid I have been unable to and remain totally bewildered and baffled. My faith in the NIA and NHS Innovations is zero. I would call it a tick-box exercise. I would be happy to discuss this with you. JS

The Health Foundation

The NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) is a national programme that seeks to identify and support Fellows with a strong value-set and passion for taking some of the world’s best tried and tested innovations to benefit more people and staff across the NHS. Now entering its second year, the NIA is announcing its support of eight selected Fellows and their innovations, which met the stringent application criteria and succeeded the rigorous selection process from the 119 applications received.

The standard of applications to the NIA in 2016 has been impressive and the panel has been inspired both by the level of interest, the passion of the applicants to learn and the innovative work taking place across the healthcare system. The NIA is in place to support the very best of these applicants and their innovations and these are judged against clear criteria and requirements by assessors, interviewers and a final evaluation panel made up of patient representatives, clinicians, commercial, implementation and information governance experts, and NICE.

To be successful, applicants needed to demonstrate that they are eager to learn and openly share their insights through the fellowship, and that they have a tried and tested, high value innovation facing a significant barrier to scaling across the NHS

Applicants who were unsuccessful in this current round are offered feedback, suggestions and signposting within the NHS.

Add new comment

* indicates a required field

Your email address will not be published on the site and will only be used if we need to contact you about your comment.

View our comments policy