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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
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BSMHFT embracing innovation as leaders of major new trials to improve patient care

Published: 21/01/2016

Patients in Birmingham and Solihull will be among the first to benefit from a major new drive to modernise how the NHS delivers care.

Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust will be leading the way in NHS innovation, as part of a pioneering “Test Bed” with partners including, Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust, Joint Commissioning Team, The Strategy unit hosted by Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit, West Midlands Academic Health Science Network, West Midlands Ambulance Service and West Midlands Police.

Frontline health and care workers in Birmingham and Solihull will pioneer and evaluate an innovative project, RAIDPlus Integrated Mental Health Urgent Care Test Bed, to achieve predictive, preventative, integrated and efficient urgent care services for patients who are most at risk of a mental health crisis, and support their relatives and carers.

The project, along with six others from around the country, will be unveiled by NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens at the World Economic Forum in Davos today (Friday 22nd).

It is part of the first wave of NHS Test Beds, collaborations between the NHS and innovators which aim to harness technology to address some of the most complex issues facing patients and the health service.  Successful innovations will then be available for other parts of the country to adopt and adapt to the particular needs of their local populations.

The RAIDPlus project will provide patients in Birmingham and Solihull with access to digital tools such as improved online support, risk assessments and crisis intervention plans that will enable care professionals to better support patients to manage their conditions in the community.  Training will be designed and delivered to partner organisations, patients and their carers to assist them in identifying the early warning signs of a mental health crisis. In addition, the Test Bed will use predictive analytics technology to better identify those at risk of crisis, enabling mobile crisis workers and tele-triage workers to provide prevention support before a crisis arises.

Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust’s Chief Executive, John Short, said: “I am delighted to be leading one of the seven NHS Test Beds that has been chosen to pioneer and evaluate the use of innovative technology, service models and partnerships to deliver better patient care to people in Birmingham and Solihull.

“Working with our partner NHS trusts, local police and ambulance services and research, academic and private sector partners we hope to bring real innovation and use of technology to support patients and crisis services in providing more timely support to people experiencing mental health crises. This investment will bring us new opportunities to work in partnership with patients, their carers and other local organisations, much earlier in their journey to predict and prevent a mental health crisis arising.”

Dr Christopher Parker, Managing Director of West Midlands Academic Health Science Network, said: “The co-occurrence of mental and physical health problems is very common, often leading to poorer health outcomes and increased healthcare costs, and so is a priority area for the government. This is a fantastic opportunity for Birmingham and Solihull to be at the forefront of pioneering person-centred care for people at risk of mental health crisis. We look forward to supporting the trust and the other partners in developing the Test Bed and importantly, in spreading the adoption of a truly innovative service which provides better patient care and support, with potentially huge savings for the NHS.”

NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens said: "Over the next decade major health gains won’t just come from a few 'miracle cures', but also from combining diverse breakthroughs in fields such as biosensors, medtech and drug discovery, mobile communications, and AI computing.

“Our new NHS Test Beds programme aims to cut through the hype and test the practical benefits for patients when we bring together some of these most promising technologies in receptive environments inside the world's largest public, integrated health service."

A joint programme between NHS England, the Office for Life Science, the Department of Health and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, NHS Test Beds bring together local health and social care bodies including CCGs, hospital trusts, primary and community care providers with a wide range of innovators from home and abroad.

Each Test Bed will use a different combination of innovations, from both large and small organisations, to address a locally-identified clinical challenge.  The changes made will be rigorously evaluated, with the aim to provide evidence which will give more areas the confidence to adopt the innovations over the coming years. 

Test beds are a key strand of the NHS Five Year Forward View, and will help realise the ambition of reforming the NHS so that it is fit to face the challenges of the 21st century - particularly an ageing population and an increase in patients with long-term health conditions – while remaining financially sustainable.

The NHS has a track record of being open to new ideas and technology – they’re being implemented all the time. Where progress has been slower is in combining innovations, in a whole-system way, so that their impact is bigger than the sum of their parts – the ‘test beds’ programme will change that.