Working with Lancashire and South Cumbria Innovation Alliance

Patients in Lancashire and Cumbria are among the first to benefit from a major new drive to transform health services, supported by the Innovation Agency.

A Test Bed programme is hosted by Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and is an alliance of several partners including Lancaster University, the Innovation Agency and the two vanguards in Lancashire; Fylde Coast and Better Care Together. The Alliance is also made up of several technology partners or ‘innovators’ including, Philips as the lead innovator, together with other SME (Small and Medium sized Enterprises) and voluntary sector organisations.

Together they form the Lancashire and Cumbria Innovation Alliance, which over the next two years will enable frontline health and care workers in Lancashire to use a range of technologies and interventions to support frail and elderly and people living with long-term conditions and dementia to be cared for outside hospital, to improve their care.

The bid for Test Bed funding was backed by the the Innovation Agency, with support in putting together the proposal and in introducing some of the commercial partners. The Innovation Agency continues to support the Test Bed by connecting innovators with health and care providers; and with helping to spread the lessons learned so that other areas benefit.

The Test Bed, funded by NHS England, is one of seven sites delivered in partnership with the Department of Health, to explore how technology can improve patient outcomes and experience at the same or lower cost, and helping bridge the gap between innovators and the NHS market

The objective of this test bed is to help people living with a mild to moderate dementia diagnosis or other long term conditions, such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and diabetes, to self-manage, avoiding acute exacerbations of their condition and unnecessary hospital admissions.

Patient and GP welcome the Test Bed

Retired magistrate Ian Paterson, 71, from Lytham, is someone who will benefit from the initiative. He has suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for the past four years.

When his symptoms worsen, he is unable to breathe and calls for medical help. Now, he is one of several hundred patients in a 'test bed" to try out new technology so that he can monitor and manage his condition at home. 

He said: "When I first developed this condition I did not know what signs to look out for and found myself calling for an ambulance and going to hospital on a regular basis."

The main commercial partner is Philips, which is supplying devices to people living with long term conditions. For patients like Mr Paterson, this will include a set of scales and a blood pressure device, connected to a special tablet computer which automatically receives information on his health. The scales are important as an increase in weight can be a sign of fluid retention, indicating a possible problem.

Mr Paterson said: "Having access to equipment like this would have helped me a great deal as I could identify when things were going wrong and do something about it without the need to go into hospital."

GP Tony Naughton, Clinical Chief Officer of Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group said: "The impact has to be that we stop people going into hospital, because hospitals are being overwhelmed with elderly and sick people who perhaps live alone and don"t look after their medical conditions very well."

The Innovation Agency Chief Executive Dr Liz Mear said:

"Winning Test Bed status gives us a fantastic opportunity to be imaginative and ambitious in how we deliver health care. It is very much a practical, 'real world" test of how new technologies can improve people"s lives and the aim is that the benefits which we hope will be enjoyed by residents in Lancashire will be spread across the country.

"Being just one of a handful of areas in the country to be given this opportunity, shows the strength of our regional collaboration and our capability in the health, academic and business sectors."

Useful links

Test Beds innovation briefing - how this programme differs from other initiatives 

Test Bed Frequently Asked Questions

Test Beds - NHS England

Test Bed Prospectus - Real world testing of 'combinatorial innovation" A global invitation to innovators


Julia Reynolds
Tel: 01772 520 253