Businesses to share £5m moneypot for end-of-life and mental health innovations

Government announces competition for products or services to improve patients' lives and wellbeing

The Government has announced a £5m funding package to help businesses in the UK create new products or services that will help to improve the lives of people with mental health illnesses and those reaching the end of their lives.

The cash is part of a commitment to help improve care for patients with long-term conditions and ensure high-quality care and support is offered to dying people in their final days and hours.

We need to find new ways of treating and supporting people with mental illness and need to ensure those approaching the end of their life are treated with dignity and respect and receive the best care and support

The two competitions, with a total of up to £5m of funding up for grabs, seeks ideas that can improve the experience for older people at the end of their life or improve the experience for people with mental health illnesses.

Announcing the initiative, Health Minister, Lord Howe, said: “We need to find new ways of treating and supporting people with mental illness and need to ensure those approaching the end of their life are treated with dignity and respect and receive the best care and support.

“Small businesses play a crucial role in providing creative and innovative solutions to existing problems. That’s why we are supporting them through our £5m funding aimed at tackling these challenges and making a difference to patients’ lives.”

Mental health illnesses are the single largest cause of disability in the UK. At least one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life and the Government’s No health without mental health outcomes strategy highlights the importance of tackling the inequalities that lead to poor mental health, but also the unique and varied challenges associated with the illness.

Technologies that can give people a better end of life or improve the management of mental illness could make a real difference to many

The funding competition calls for creative ideas and technologies that could mean mental illnesses are diagnosed earlier, and the disease better managed through a more tailored approach to care. The other competition focuses on how new technologies can help people to have a better experience of end-of-life care. Ideas could include new technologies that provide greater comfort and help with managing pain.

Sir David Nicholson, chief executive of the NHS, said: “The NHS can be proud of the innovation it has introduced into the care of patients across England, but we need to get smarter at making it easy for others to adopt. Technologies that can give people a better end of life or improve the management of mental illness could make a real difference to many.”

The initiatives are part of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), a cross-government initiative that aims to promote UK economic growth while addressing public sector needs. Previous competitions called for technological and innovative solutions to change people’s behaviour in order to reduce the impact of obesity and alcohol-related diseases and solutions to improve the number of patients taking their medication as prescribed. Contracts have now been awarded to the successful organisations and work is underway to turn these innovative ideas into commercial products and, ultimately, to promote NHS adoption.

Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: “These new competitions represent the next step in the continued engagement of the Department of Health and the NHS in SBRI, showing the value they can get from engaging with industry, taking the role of lead customer and securing new and novel solutions to intractable problems while at the same time encouraging British business.”

The competitions will be managed by NHS Midlands and East.

For more details, click here.

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