While the NHS can be at times big, unwieldy and bureaucratic, our Top Innovators show that it still allows space for innovation and new ideas to flourish, says HSJ editor Alastair McLellan
It too often gets overlooked by the public and by our political masters, but the NHS has, ever since its foundation in 1948, been a crucible for innovation.
- Intearactive: HSJ Top Innovators 2014
- HSJ Top Innovators 2014 – mobile friendly version
- Dominic Cook: on creative people in healthcare
- Download a PDF version of the supplement
New drugs, new surgical techniques and treatment breakthroughs; new processes, procedures and equipment; new ways of working and caring – in many respects the day to day excellence of the NHS is built on constant questioning and innovation, both on the frontline and behind the scenes.
What we are therefore publishing here in this our second HSJ Top Innovators is not necessarily the 50 greatest innovations in healthcare, nor even the 50 greatest innovators in the NHS. That would be an impossible task, not least the notion that you could distil such a list down to as few as 50 people.
Top flight imagination
No, what we are presenting here is simply 50 great examples of innovation, from people who have had a light bulb moment through to those whose work over many years has revolutionised how challenges in healthcare have been tackled.
‘Many of our innovators have achieved their success outside the day job and through their sheer bloody mindedness’
Our judges worked around some broad criteria: significance, or how big the problem solved has been; impact, or what difference the innovation has made and to what extent it has worked to change things; and support, or how the innovation has fostered and led to other innovation and how it has given inspiration to others.
Our list, we’re pleased to say, is diverse, encompassing everything from top flight clinicians at the leading edge of their research fields through to frontline staff, patients, managers and simply free thinking spirits, from within and outside the NHS, who have brought their imagination and creativity to bear.
What is also striking about our list is how, while many of our innovators have achieved their success outside the day job and through their own often sheer bloody mindedness – what we might term traditional “garden shed” innovation – many, too, have been supported and encouraged by their colleagues, managers or wider NHS organisations.
That’s hugely positive and shows how, for all the NHS can be at times big, unwieldy and bureaucratic, it should be applauded for still allowing space for innovation and “blue sky” thinking. We hope you enjoy – and are inspired by – our 50 Top Innovators.