£30m innovation fund for specialist services


NHS England announces new programme to fast-track innovative devices into the NHS

NHS England has published details of a new innovation evaluation fund, specifically focused on those prescribed specialised services which it is responsible for directly commissioning.

The introduction of the fund will significantly improve and speed up the process of adopting new innovations within these services and contribute to the aims of the NHS as described by the Outcomes Framework, including saving lives, helping patients recover from acute episodes of illness, and transforming services for long-term conditions.

In the past, the process for adopting innovations into specialised services was lengthy, fragmented and often based on limited information

The Specialised Services Commissioning Innovation Fund (SSCIF) will transform the way that new innovations are identified, tested and adopted. The fund will open for business on 2 September and will specifically focus on innovations in those clinical areas that are defined as prescribed specialised services commissioned directly by NHS England.

Applications will be invited via an open web-based submission process. The first stage of the application process – the Step 1 – Self-Assessment Form - is now ‘live’, providing applicants with an opportunity to see whether or not their innovation is likely to meet the necessary criteria for progressing through the SSCIF process.

It is anticipated that innovations will cover a diverse range of areas including care pathways, workforce, technologies, devices and diagnostics. Applicants are expected to include manufacturers, patient groups, voluntary sector organisations, commissioners, NHS frontline staff and non-NHS service providers.

A spokesman for the fund said: “In the past, the process for adopting innovations into specialised services was lengthy, fragmented and often based on limited information.

“Applications for adoption were made to the 10 regional specialised commissioning groups (SCGs). Each SCG applied different criteria for assessment, and had different regional requirements, and therefore decisions varied from region to region. In addition to this, the nature of the evidence underpinning those decisions was often limited and adoption of an innovation could take up to three years.

”The SSCIF Programme focuses on rare health conditions and diseases and establishes anopen application process that will effectively horizon scan for the best innovations, and then fund rapid evaluations of the effectiveness and use of innovations. If the SSCIF Evaluation Projects show that the innovations can deliver significant improvements in quality or value, they will inform a commissioning policy for widespread adoption, subject to available funding.”

Sign up for your free email newsletter

The fund will be up to £50m in 2013/14, and has been created as a non-recurrent fund.