Innovation Agency
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'I'm proud of the work we're carrying out'

Blog posted by: Innovation Agency Clinical Director Andrew Cooper, 09 August 2021.

I love where I live: Wirral is an amazing place with wide-open sands and great views of the Welsh hills just over the River Dee. I’ve been grateful for having this on my doorstep, especially over the last 18 months or so.

The pandemic has hit the region hard: the first patients with COVID-19 to fly back into the UK were quarantined for a time in Arrowe Park Hospital a couple of miles from home. Care homes in our area were significantly affected as staff worked hard to look after residents during a time of great uncertainty.

Throughout it all the Innovation Agency has, I believe, really stepped in to offer timely help.

For example, in March 2020 we anticipated an increase in the number of patients requiring a tracheostomy, yet some healthcare staff, particularly those who were redeployed to provide critical care, were relatively unfamiliar with tracheostomy management. Katie Whittle, a Senior Programme Manager with the Agency’s Patient Safety and Care Improvement Team, and myself led a national programme of work to support these staff. In partnership with colleagues from Health Innovation Manchester and the National Patient Safety Improvement, team we helped create a toolkit, in collaboration with Dr Brendan McGrath, Clinical Lead for the National Tracheostomy Safety Project.

In just two weeks the national Safe Tracheostomy Care programme was launched. One year on, 92 per cent of acute hospitals in England that care for patients with tracheostomies have adopted these three key safety interventions. 

Timely, effective, life-saving support

During the pandemic, keeping patients out of hospital became a top priority and digital technology came into its own. Monitoring the health of patients, especially those with respiratory conditions, was made easier thanks to a system which allowed remote monitoring to take place. Known as ‘COVID Oximetry at Home’, patients were assessed and given a pulse oximeter to monitor oxygen saturation levels. They were able to feed this information back to the health professional who was overseeing their care, often via an app on their smartphone or tablet, meaning their condition could be monitored remotely.  

Further developments saw the launch of the COVID Virtual Ward model which allowed patients to be discharged earlier from hospital with ongoing remote care and monitoring. In Cheshire and Merseyside, eight of the nine CCGs built on a well-established telehealth ‘hub’ model in Liverpool to rapidly expand COVID Oximetry at Home and COVID Virtual Ward services using the Docobo platform. The telehealth hub, made up of nurses and healthcare assistants, monitored the progress of 2,200 patients who were assigned the digital kit. In Lancashire and South Cumbria a similar process saw over 2,000 patients make use of the system since it was introduced in the region in November 2020.

Our response to COVID-19 continues but as Clinical Director I’m proud of the wealth of work we’re carrying out in a whole range of areas, from mental health and wellbeing to maternity services and asthma management, from cholesterol education to medicines safety.

Our team here has grown significantly in the past year and our work has an impact across the North West Coast – from Wirral to Morecambe Bay.

While 2020 and 2021 might be the years we would rather forget, I think – through it all – we’ve proved that we can spark the kind of collaborations and innovations that make a real difference to the lives of the people who live and work in the North West Coast.

Read more about our experiences during the past year in our annual report, Our COVID-19 story




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