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Ideas

‘Much pride’ as Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust team celebrates second anniversary

Andrea Burroughs is associate director of the commercial enterprise team at The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Here, on the second anniversary since the team was formed, she talks about some of the achievements, challenges and insights experienced so far. 

Starting this role and establishing the team took place at the same time as the world, and the NHS, was responding to an unpredictable pandemic.

On a personal level, I had relocated to Newcastle from Bath in the middle of such uncertainty, and faced the challenge of establishing priorities and relationships in a period where the trust was facing significant pressure amid huge adjustments to the delivery of care.

Although difficult, the wider situation did give the team more time to understand the culture of the organisation, appreciate the landscape we were working in and identify the areas we might explore commercially.

Patients are at the heart of everything we do.

Our role is to encourage innovation, to support clinical colleagues to harness the potential of their ideas, whether that’s a product or a service, and to maximise opportunities to generate income to reinvest in patient care.

In these challenging times, it’s our priority to continue to provide outstanding services and care for people.

During the pandemic, the drive for innovation was emphasised, and accelerated, both in Newcastle Hospitals and nationally.

In our large and complex organisation, with around 18,000 staff, we’re building on this to actively promote innovative thinking and to put in place an infrastructure to support colleagues in recognising the commercial value of their work and initiatives.

It’s a balancing act of retaining the initiative and responsiveness which became more evident during the pandemic, while making sure we observe due governance and operate responsibly at all times.

Importantly, all of the team’s priorities and opportunities we explore are in line with the trust’s overarching commercial and innovation strategies – which focus our efforts and keep healthcare at our heart.

Now we’re in the pandemic recovery phase, having the last two years to establish the team has put us on a stronger footing to maximise those opportunities to benefit patients.

 

Pictured, above, Andrea Burroughs, associate director of the commercial enterprise team at The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

 

We can apply our knowledge and skills across a wide range of projects, and are currently supporting teams and individuals across a number of directorates.

Recently, the team has worked with colleagues from our pharmacy production unit – which makes medicines and provides pharmacy quality control services – offering specialist input to unlock a significant regulatory and legislative issue affecting the import and use of a groundbreaking sight-saving treatment.

The success of this project means this vital treatment can now be provided to restore the eyesight of patients across England.

Working closely with Newcastle Hospitals’ North East Innovation Lab team, we’ve helped secure an additional £1.4 million to continue their important work to bring new diagnostic technologies to mainstream use.

We also market the lab’s services to innovative developers and industry partners in the region and abroad.

The success of this specialist lab is a great example of how our work links across sectors and organisational boundaries to bring together partners in a collaborative approach.

Delivering the national life science vision is really important to us, and we work closely with industry and academic partners with the joint aim of developing new technologies that make a difference to people’s lives.

Our organisation is now one of nine partners providing ‘test and evaluation’ opportunities for NHS England’s clinical entrepreneur programme.

Led by Professor Tony Young, director of innovation at NHS England, the programme provides entrepreneurial support and tailored development opportunities for successful applicants, who can come from anywhere in the NHS, and who may need their ideas or innovation to be tested and evaluated in a healthcare environment.

 

Pictured, above, the commercial enterprise team at The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

 

As a team, we have also been successful in helping secure £1.5 million funding to roll out use of a new ‘assay’ technology, developed here in the North East, which can provide early detection of certain hereditary bowel cancers.

The funding will help define and support the best route for commercialisation of this technology, so it can benefit people across the UK and globally.

Next, we are looking to develop our consultancy offer to provide services to other NHS trusts, public sector organisations and innovators, to share our commercial expertise and insight.

As the team celebrates its second anniversary, there is much to be proud of.

Importantly, we are forecasting a surplus to be reinvested into services at Newcastle Hospitals, and have supported colleagues on around 50 projects, with more in the pipeline.

A great day for me is essentially feeling a sense of achievement or purpose.

I count myself very fortunate to be part of Newcastle Hospitals, working with fantastic people in such an outstanding and vibrant organisation, as well as working closely with so many inspiring partners across the NHS, academia and industry.

I’ve found people in the North East to be friendly, full of passion and pride, and I think that’s reflected in how they work and the quality of the services we have here.