A Medical Device Daily

UK National Health Service (NHS) Chief Executive David Nicholson recently thanked NHS staff for their work in improving care for patients this year, including reducing healthcare associated infections and waiting times, and extending general practitioner opening hours.

Launching his third annual report at the yearly NHS Chief Executive's Conference, Nicholson said that while the NHS had delivered what it said it would over the year, it had to go farther and faster to improve the quality of services for patients.

He said the NHS would receive 11% increases in funding over the next two years, which will be locked in on a recurring basis, but would need to prepare for leaner times after that. This meant the NHS would need to deliver efficiency savings on the order of £15 billion over the three years after 2011, Nicholson said, in order to address pressures in the system.

This, he said, can only be achieved through the improvements in quality and advances in innovation envisioned in the Next Stage Review.

Nicholson said that in 2008/2009, the NHS:

Met the commitment to treat all patients within 18 weeks from referral to hospital treatment five months early.

Reduced MRSA infections by 62% below the 2003/2004 baseline – exceeding the target of 50%.

Provided extended opening hours at 71% of GP practices – exceeding the target set by the prime minister of 50%.

Employed an additional 1,195 midwives by the end of 2009 against a target of adding 1,000 to the 2006 baseline.

Exceeded the Gershon efficiency savings target of £6.47 billion, delivering £7.88 billion of savings.

Public confidence in the NHS rose to the highest levels on record during the year and staff morale also remained at record highs, Nicholson said.

"We have the opportunity to shape our own future by focusing our efforts on organizing the system around the delivery of high-quality care," he said. "The Next Stage Review has mobilized managers and clinicians around the shared ambition to improve quality for patients.

"Evidence from other countries and industries has shown us that improving quality and productivity needs to be linked by innovation driving sustained improvements across the system," Nicholson said, adding, "That is what we have done to tackle HCAIs, both saving patients lives and saving the NHS £75 million."

He said the NHS' primary goal this year will be "focusing on innovation to drive quality and productivity."

D3 in CEO search

D3 Technologies (Glasgow, Scotland), a provider of trace level detection technologies based on the exploitation of surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) and surface enhanced resonance Raman scattering (SERRS), reported that it has initiated a search for a new CEO.

The company's current CEO, Professor Ewen Smith, will continue to serve in his current position during the search process before he steps down later this year, thus ensuring an orderly transition during what it termed "an exciting period of development in the molecular diagnostics market."

The company is seeking a CEO with international experience of new product development and marketing of clinical molecular diagnostics products, to lead D3 Technologies as it moves toward the international launch of its first in vitro diagnostic products.

Smith said, "Since the successful spin-out of D3 Technologies from the University of Strathclyde in July 2007, it has been a wonderfully stimulating experience to guide a highly professional multi-disciplinary team of molecular biologists, chemists, physicists, material scientists and engineers, all working towards the development of improved DNA-based diagnostic tests to detect diseases, or the genetic predisposition to diseases."

He added, "I think that at this time a CEO with commercial skills to take the product to market would be beneficial for D3 and for that reason intend to stand down."

NHS research projects awarded over £1 million

Ten healthcare scientists from across England have been awarded research fellowships worth a total in excess of £1million for projects that will lead to improvements in patient care, Chief Scientific Officer Sue Hill reported.

The awards were the results of the first round of the new CSO Research Fellowship competition launched last September to support the development of research capacity in healthcare science in the NHS. The program is funded by the UK Department of Health and managed by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).

The projects include a range of healthcare science activities such as developing techniques to diagnose health conditions and improving patient care for cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Along with supporting individual research programs, the funding will support the postgraduate training needs of each research fellow.

Hill said, "Competition for this first round of CSO Research Fellowships was very keen. There were many high-quality applications from healthcare scientists working across a wide range of disciplines, illustrating the wealth of opportunities within the NHS for translational research to improve patient care using healthcare scientists' valuable expertise."

The CSO Research Fellowship Competition will run for another two years and provide a total of £4 million in funding.