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Innovation Exchange to tackle NHS challenges around antimicrobial resistance

Posted: 18th November 2019

A search has been launched during World Antibiotic Awareness Week to find innovative technologies that will support health and social care workers to overcome the challenges of tackling antimicrobial resistance.

As part of the Health Network North initiative that focuses upon unmet needs, the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC) in partnership with NHS England and NHS Improvement are calling for applications from all innovators, whether businesses, individuals, universities, NHS teams or charities – to respond to challenges posed by antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Dr Sharon Saint Lamont, Head Antimicrobial Resistance at NHS England and NHS Improvement said:

“This call is addressing very real challenges faced by the NHS and social care today. The situation is becoming critical. If we don’t act now, in 30 years’ time people will die from everyday infections that are no longer treatable and surgery may be too great a risk without effective antibiotics.  We’re hopeful that the solutions exist, whether they’re new innovations or existing technologies applied to different settings but with the potential to be modified and adapted into a healthcare setting. If the solutions don’t exist yet, we’re also open to supporting the co-creation of solutions between the NHS, social care and partners.

We’d like to hear from innovators across all sectors, in any location, if they have a device or an idea which can help provide a solution to antimicrobial resistance.”

Increasing rates of AMR is one of the major threats to human health.  In January 2019 the UK government published a 5-year action plan and a 20-year vision , building on the achievements of the 2013-2018 5-year plan.  Current plans include reducing drug-resistant infections by 10% by 2025, reducing antibiotic use in humans by 15%, and reducing gram negative blood stream infections.

Failure to address the problem of AMR could result in an estimated 10 million deaths every year globally by 2050. The burden of infections caused by antibiotic resistance continues to rise, highlighting the necessity for effective prevention.

Tackling AMR in human health alone requires changes in infection prevention and control, prescribing, diagnostics and data – this will enable us to prevent infections, ensure we use right antibiotics at the right time and that the enablers for doing this are in place.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have identified five key challenges:

  1. Training and education – of health and social care workers including advice and guidance, antimicrobial stewardship programmes, hand hygiene, checklists and education messages on AMR to prevent the spread of infection and reduce the need for antibiotics and; of the general public on inappropriate antibiotic use and the dangers of misuse and self-care advice including good hygiene practices such as hand washing.
  2. Diagnostic tests including at point of care across the pathway that meet national and international standards – a need for rapid diagnostic tools to help health professionals identify an infection within minutes evidence of the benefit to patients and value to health and care systems.
  3. Encouraging responsible antibiotic prescribing – there is a need to improve effective prescribing to help GPs, pharmacists and hospital prescribers to reduce antibiotic prescribing.
  4. Encouraging adequate hydration – ensure hydration in patient groups at high risk such as those with a urinary tract infection and in the elderly population.
  5. Surveillance programme and improved data systemsthe linking of data to be able to understand the existing challenge and pathways of AMR including patient access points and prescribing habits to more effectively target interventions.

Comprehensive infection prevention and control measures are vital to reducing the development and spread of antimicrobial-resistant infections. It is time to move to a whole health system approach that spans across the whole patient pathway.

The challenge seeks to facilitate swift progress on cross-sector collaborative projects that benefit patients by improving health outcomes and efficiencies, as well as accelerating the adoption of evidence-based innovation.

The Health Network North initiative sees the AHSN NENC act as a broker between businesses and the NHS to simplify the often-complex process of accessing the NHS market.

Submission deadline: 31st January 2020.

Applications will be reviewed and those shortlisted will be invited to present to a panel of industry experts.

Successful innovators from the call will receive bespoke assistance and a financial award from the AHSN NENC and the Innovation Super Network and will be guided through the Innovation Pathway to develop the solutions.

For more information on how to apply to the challenge and important dates, visit: Health Network North