Solar panels to improve health inequalities and a radio show to beat mental health stigma scoop prizes

A project using savings from clean energy to address fuel poverty related health inequalities, a campaign to tackle the damaging effects of night working among NHS staff, and a radio programme helping to overcome stigma against people with mental health difficulties, were among the winning projects announced at The BMJ Awards 2020 tonight.

A total of 14 awards were presented at a virtual ceremony to recognise the extraordinary and innovative work of healthcare professionals throughout the UK.

The BMJ Awards are designed to reflect The BMJ’s mission to improve healthcare and research, to help doctors make better decisions, to promote partnership with patients, and to build a healthier world.

Anaesthesia & Perioperative Medicine Team of the Year went to Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust with their UK National Tracheostomy Safety Project, which standardises care for patients with tracheostomies and has reduced the harm from incidents. The project has already been rolled out to 20 hospitals in England.

The judges said this was a worthy winner with national impact and potentially global reach.

Cancer Care Team of the Year went to Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Oxfordshire CCG with their suspected cancer (SCAN) pathway specifically designed for patients with “low risk but not no risk” cancer symptoms. GPs can directly refer patients to the service where they are given a CT scan and referred on to the appropriate consultant.

The judges said this outstanding project was “a great step forward in fulfilling the need for better pathways for patients with non-specific but worrying symptoms.”

Clinical Leadership Team of the Year went to Hepatitis C Elimination Wales for improved access to testing and treatment through a national network built in collaboration with Public Health Wales and Welsh health boards. The team developed national treatment guidelines which have eliminated postcode prescribing and improved cure rates to around 95%.

The judges strongly felt that the breadth of collaboration shown was phenomenal, and what they have achieved is breathtaking.

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust won Dermatology Team of the Year for a project that allows patients with suspected skin cancer to be referred by the GP for an appointment with a medical photographer. The images are then reviewed by a consultant dermatologist and appropriate management initiated. The change has meant a third of patients can be discharged without a face to face clinician appointment and there has been an increase in skin cancer diagnoses.

The judges were impressed with the patient centred approach and that the service is already expanding into other areas, with potential to be scaled up further.

Diagnostics Team of the Year went to Healthy.io and Modality Partnership for their digital home albumin screening kit. Patients with type 2 diabetes download an app onto their smartphone and receive a kit through the post allowing them to test their own albumin creatinine ratio. Of the 499 patients who used the test kit, 11% were found to have an abnormal ACR indicating previously unknown chronic kidney disease.

The judges said this was an innovative solution that has large scale impact at a relatively low cost, with exciting potential for future development.

Innovative video animations introduced at Barts Health NHS Trust won Digital Innovation Team of the Year. These have radically improved patients’ understanding of clinical procedures and the trade-offs between benefit and risks. An evaluation of the project showed they could save the NHS about £40m a year if expanded across all specialties and trusts.

The judges said the project “helps to address health inequalities and empowers patients, providing styling yet simple explanations in different languages.”

University Hospitals of North Midlands won Environmental Sustainability and Climate Action Team of the Year by using savings from clean energy investments, such as solar panels, to address fuel poverty related health inequality, in partnership with a local charity. The project funded interventions to improve the health of vulnerable patients by dealing with heating and dampness in their homes.

The judges said the project “sets an excellent example for other NHS trusts to replicate similar projects.”

Innovation in Quality Improvement Award went to the Western Health and Social Care Trust for a new gestational diabetes pathway which has improved the flow of appointments and cut waiting times. The introduction of virtual video clinics supported by cloud-based glucose monitoring technology has reduced the number of face to face specialist appointments and cut travelling time for patients.

The judges said this is a great project which truly encompasses what QI should entail.

Mental Health Team of the Year went to Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust for a regular mental health radio phone in programme. The programme, which has run since 2011, has helped to overcome the stigma and discrimination against people with mental health difficulties and provides valuable public education.

The judges were impressed with this imaginative and innovative project with sustained effort to support people in an area with high rates of suicide.

The Healthy Hyde Team in Greater Manchester won Primary Care Team of the Year for giving patients in care homes a bigger say in how their care is managed. Compassionate advanced care plans helped to reduce hospital admissions and attendances at A&E.

The judges were impressed with the very patient focused nature of the project.

Respiratory Team of the Year went to the respiratory infection team at University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust. The team improved outcomes for people with community acquired pneumonia by promoting adherence to guidelines, reducing length of hospital stay and enhancing support during recovery.

The judges said this excellent project has helped make a substantial difference to patient-centred outcomes and experience, as well as cost savings through reducing admissions, readmissions and length of stay.

The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust & University of Exeter won Stroke and Cardiovascular Team of the Year for their project to help heart failure patients achieve better quality of life from the comfort of their own homes. The REACH-HF programme has been shown to improve quality of life and is currently being rolled out and evaluated in four NHS trusts.

The judges said this is “an impressive example of excellent teamwork producing a real world solution.”

Women’s Health Team of the Year went to Basildon and Thurrock Hospitals NHS Trust for raising awareness and improving the experience of pregnant women with diabetes. It connected a midwife tele-clinic “hub” to education gestational diabetics group sessions and standard antenatal clinics.

The judges said the project “will have a really long term impact, not only improving the health of women during pregnancy, but achieving health benefits for the rest of a woman’s life and for her children too.”

Workforce and Wellbeing Team of the Year went to a joint campaign to tackle the damaging effects of night working among NHS staff by the Association of Anaesthetists, Royal College of Anaesthetists and Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine. They launched educational materials and talks that raised awareness of the importance of fatigue management and impacts on patients and staff safety.

The judges said this is “a great example of collaborative working, and pushing an extremely important issue higher on everyone’s agendas.”

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