Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from Devices for Dignity

The festive period typically brings time for reflection as we welcome the start of a new year, and 2020 has been a year unlike any other. We have experienced unprecedented challenges across society, particularly for all those living with a long-term health condition, and incredible pressure on our health and care system and public services. We thank our NHS colleagues for all their hard work and continued commitment to patient care in these extreme circumstances.

At Devices for Dignity, I am proud of the way our team, and our wider network of partners, have demonstrated their agility and adapted to the challenges faced – including a transition to remote working and using online co-creation tools and platforms to continue to innovate in technology development.

We have continued to collaborate with our networks to deliver our project commitments and have had many achievements throughout the year – including a successful funding award from NIHR i4i to develop a new therapy for post-stroke arm spasticity (Sheffield Adaptive Patterned Electrical Stimulation (SHAPES)); seed-funding from Ufi VocTech Trust for our Neurocare KnowHow project to co-create a novel learning platform for carers; launch of the new Starworks website as we continue to drive our young people’s prosthetic research collaboration; and the co-development and launch of the Dysphagia Guide e-learning resource.

In the summer, we partnered with Medilink East Midlands to host the “Opportunities in medtech innovation: long-term neurological conditions” webinar to catalyse & advance technology innovation as we learnt more about the impact of Covid-19.

And we were delighted to partner with the Office of the Chief Scientific Officer for NHS England and Improvement (CSO) and the National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS) to launch the new Pilot Healthcare Science Innovation Fellowships Programme  designed to advance technology innovation skills in healthcare scientists. We look forward to welcoming the successful Fellows and delivering the programme in 2021.

There were changes in our team also – our colleague Kathy Jeays-Ward recently joined NHS England and NHS Improvement as Research Senior Manager. We wish her every success in her new role and look forward to continued collaboration with her. David Coyle, D4D’s Patient Partnership Lead, joined the NETSCC PPIE Reference Group as a volunteer alongside a number of other roles.  This is an advisory group which advises on the development of effective PPI ways of working at every stage of the research management process.

As we reach the mid-point of our current NIHR funding, we have recognised the vital role that Devices for Dignity will continue to fulfil, due to our focus on long-term conditions, to support people recovering from Covid-19. We have adapted our programme to support this and actively engaged in new initiatives – innovation has certainly been at the forefront in 2020 as we explore how we can use our knowledge and capabilities to deliver maximum benefit for patients, the NHS and our industry and academic partners.

We want to support industry in their post-Covid economic recovery plans and we’d like to hear from innovators ready to collaborate on projects within our clinical and cross-cutting themes. We are looking ahead to further consolidation of integrated care approaches across health and care systems, and greater emphasis on health and care partnership working, and we look forward to working with our system partners to integrate medtech innovation into business as usual.

We’d like to thank all our partners and collaborators for their commitment and expertise throughout the year – and thank you to our Steering Committee for their support and valued contributions.

On behalf of the Devices for Dignity team, stay safe and well, and best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2021.

Prof Wendy Tindale OBE

Director, NIHR Devices for Dignity MIC