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Tony Young

Prof Tony Young: Innovation and the NHS

Tuesday 5th June 2018

Heart Valve Voice have been working closely with clinical directors, policy makers and clinicians who are as passionate about innovation in healthcare as we are and are as dedicated to improving the patient pathway for valve disease patients across the NHS. Innovation is key to ensuring that patients are receiving the best and most effective treatment available. Meet Tony Young, National Clinical Lead for Innovation at NHS England and Consultant Urological Surgeon at Southend University Hospital. Tony spoke to Heart Valve Voice about his role with NHS England on the Strategy and Innovation Directorate and the importance of innovation in healthcare and the treatment of patients across the UK and the role of innovation in the treatment of heart valve disease.

In my role as the National Clinical Lead for Innovation I think I have one of the best jobs in the country. The world beats its way to the door of the NHS and so I get to see the latest, greatest innovations and explore how we can take them up. That might be the latest tech from Silicon Valley or a new care pathway from the frontline of the NHS. I get to step out of my vertical/silo and look across the horizontal of all that is going on in healthcare and life science across the planet. That gives me the opportunity to gain new insights and bring them to the benefit of the NHS, helping us transform the system through innovation.

At NHS England I work in the Strategy and Innovation directorate as part of the innovation team. I support the work of the team across our portfolio of work streams including the National Innovation Accelerator, Test Beds, Academic Health Science Networks, the Innovative technology programme and the Clinical Entrepreneur programme. In particular, I focus on driving the uptake of proven innovation across the healthcare system to ensure that patients can reap the benefits of the latest in medical advances. With the NHS turning 70 this year, it provides us with a pertinent opportunity to look back at innovation in the NHS and how it has improved outcomes for patients, as well as looking forward to how we can ensure patients are able to benefit from the unprecedented recent advances in medicines and technology.

The Government and NHS England’s continued commitment to driving innovation in healthcare across the UK should be welcomed. The Government’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, which was published in August 2017, set out how the UK can position itself in a world leading position to take advantage of the health technology trends of the next 20 years. This includes encouraging NHS and industry collaboration in order to improve patient care through better adoption of innovative treatments and technology. The strategy also crucially sets out how we will secure the pool of talented people to support the delivery of innovation, through a strong skills strategy. I will be working closely with NHS England, Government and colleagues from across the healthcare sector to help deliver on this, and other important policies in this area.

One condition area that has benefited significantly from the pace of innovation over the 70 year history of the NHS has been heart valve disease, which has seen a number of new technologies made available to patients. The technology involved in procedures such as Aortic Valve Replacement (AVR) Mitral Valve Replacement (MVR) and Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVI) have significantly improved outcomes, allowing many patients to return to living normal, active and symptom free lives. With approximately 1.5 million people over the age of 65 currently affected by heart valve disease in the UK, and with the number of people in this age bracket set to significantly increase over the coming years, how we test, trial and take up new technological innovation will be more important than ever. As a practicing frontline clinician in the NHS ( I am a consultant Urological Surgeon in Southend) I know that translating frontline understanding of a problem into something actionable at NHS England that will get buy in from the senior leaders and make a difference throughout the system is quite an undertaking, but it is something we have to achieve if patients are to receive the benefit of the latest proven innovations.

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