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NHS links up with the Basque Country to boost innovation in the North West

The NHS in the North West is taking a ground-breaking approach to innovation, with help from European colleagues based in the Basque Country. A high-level delegation from the Basque Country Health Department visited Manchester on 28th April, to share their expertise in turning good ideas and inventions by healthcare professionals into commercial products for treating patients. The delegation visited Manchester Royal Infirmary, to meet representatives of TrusTECH which helps NHS staff across the NW to develop their ideas for new health technologies and equipment. The one-day programme also included discussions with the regional heads of R&D and quality assurance at the NW Strategic Health Authority, plus representatives of the Greater Manchester Comprehensive Local Research Network, National Technology Adoption Centre and Manchester Academic Health Science Centre. “The Basque Country’s health and industry ministries have an excellent track record of working together to rapidly and effectively transfer new technology into new clinical services pioneered by health professionals,” explained Keith Chantler, Executive Director of TrusTECH and head of innovation at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. “We can learn a great deal from some of the processes they have put in place to encourage and reward innovation, and establish collaborations with local and international companies. It was particularly fitting to have this visit in the NHS National Innovation Week, when the focus is on translating good ideas into improvements in healthcare delivery. Health minister Lord Darzi is keen to make the UK’s health innovation system more effective, and has this week announced a £220 million innovation fund, spread over the next five years. We will be briefing his office about our plans to adopt elements of the very successful Basque approach to bringing healthcare professionals and businesses together for the benefit of patients.” Ms Luisa Luisa Arteagoitia, Planning Director of the Health Department of the Basque Region, said: “This visit is an opportunity for innovative Basque industries to extend their market and share best practice in new healthcare processes.” Melanie Ogden, Associate Director (Quality Assurance) Performance, Nursing and Quality Directorate of NHS North West, commented: “We welcome the opportunity to hear of different approaches and incentives to innovate, as we develop our local strategy as part of our new legal duty. This is an exciting time for the NHS as we focus on the latest developments to improve patient care.”