Clinical Research Office. A partnership between Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Sheffield

Sheffield to play leading role in development of innovative technologies

A FLAGSHIP national organisation which helps those with long-term health conditions live more independent lives, is to continue to bring innovative medical technologies to the NHS thanks to a five-year funding boost from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Devices for Dignity MedTech Co-operative, which is hosted by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and works with leading universities, industry partners and patients, is one of only 11 organisations across the country to have successfully secured funding to become an innovative research co-operative.

Over £14 million has been awarded across 11 new research NIHR co-operatives, including the NIHR Devices for Dignity MedTech Co-operative (NIHR D4D MedTech Co-operative) and the NIHR Children and Young People MedTech Co-operative (NIHR CYP MedTech Co-operative).

With a key focus on ‘Living my life well for longer’, Devices for Dignity MedTech Co-operative will act as a research centre of expertise to build and develop capacity in the NHS so that new, potentially life-changing medical technologies can be manufactured, developed and used by patients.

It will specifically look at the challenges that arise from combinations of long-term conditions in people of all ages, which impact on their independence and quality of life. These restrictions could include issues such as poor mobility and limb function, bladder problems, impaired communication, depression and pain.

Its vision over the next five years will be to reduce, treat, or improve the management of these restrictions, through the use of technologies designed in collaboration with people living with long-term conditions.

Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust have also successfully secured funding to lead on the development of the NIHR Children and Young People MedTech Co-operative – the only co-operative of its kind specialising in children's health in the country. Building on the city's reputation for engineering and innovation, both co-operatives will work together to create medical technology to improve treatment and outcomes for patients with chronic conditions.

Professor Wendy Tindale, Scientific Director for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Chair of the NIHR Devices for Dignity MedTech Co-operative, said: “We are delighted to have successfully secured this funding from the National Institute for Health Research. By 2018 it is estimated that 2.9 million people in England will be living with two or more long-term health conditions. Typically these conditions are managed in isolation, which is not always effective for patients or in determining the suitability of technology to help and empower them.

“The NIHR Devices for Dignity MedTech Co-operative will build on our proven track record of bringing a range of experts together with patients to provide technological solutions to every day challenges that people face.”

The organisation will continue to work with leading academics, scientists, designers, clinicians, industry partners, patients and stakeholders to develop new technologies. Since 2008, Devices for Dignity has collaborated on over 90 projects which have resulted in the development of a number of new health technologies.

These include: a compact dialysis (blood cleaning) machine that makes it possible for people with kidney disease to be treated more flexibly; a customisable neck support for people with muscle weakness, which reduces pain and significantly improves quality of life, and a new home-based treatment for stroke survivors with long-term swallowing problems restoring their ability to eat and drink safely.

Formal partners named in the NIHR Devices for Dignity MedTech Co-operative are:

Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Trustech, The University of Leeds, Coventry University, Sheffield Hallam University, Newcastle University, The University of Sheffield and Medipex.

The organisation will be boosted by three newly-appointed theme advisors, including Professor Chris McDermott, Honorary Consultant Neurologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Professor of Translational Neurology at the University of Sheffield (Long-term Neurological Conditions), Dr Louise Moody, Reader in User-Centred Health Design at Coventry University (Human Factors), and Professor Simon Heller, Research and Development Director and Honorary Consultant Physician at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Diabetes).

Existing experts Dr Sandip Mitra, Consultant Nephrologist, MRI and Honorary Lecturer, University of Manchester (Renal), Dr Avril McCarthy, D4D MedTech Lead (MedTech Innovation), Dr Nicola Heron, D4D Programme Director (Integration and Impact), Professor Mark Hawley, Professor of Health Services Research at the University of Sheffield (Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare), and Professor Rory O’Connor, Charterhouse Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and Honorary Consultant physician in Rehabilitation Medicine at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (Rehabilitation Technologies) will also continue their involvement in developing innovative technologies for the benefit of patients. 

The funding will run from January 2018 until December 2022. 

ENDS

Photo: Professor Wendy Tindale