Three minutes: Stuart Palma

Stuart Palma manages to combine his role at the CSP as a professional adviser with being an honorary innovation fellow with NHS England.


Freedom to innovate

First, tell us about the clinical entrepreneur programme

The programme was developed by NHS England and Health Education England. It aims to help healthcare professionals develop their entrepreneurial aspirations while working in the NHS. Its remit is to support and retain clinicians with innovative ideas, giving them the skills, knowledge, experience and capacity to deliver innovations across the NHS. Being able to retain and support this talent pool will help to drive up the quality and value of care in the NHS.

How did you get involved?

When it was launched in May the programme was only open to junior doctors. Because I’m passionate about the value and contribution of the ‘whole’ workforce, I contacted Tony Young, clinical lead for innovation in the NHS. I asked why allied health professionals (AHPs) weren’t included. After all, AHPs form the third largest workforce in the NHS and are incredibly innovative, demonstrating their ability to lead change on a daily basis. The launch of recruitment of wider clinical specialties, including AHPs, is planned for September.

After I reached out to Professor Young on Twitter, he agreed to meet and discuss how we could make this happen. After the meeting, he offered me an honorary fellowship at NHS England so I could facilitate the integration of AHPs into the programme. It’s funny to think that this fantastic opportunity all started with a few tweets …

Has the NHS been resistant to change?

I think in the past the NHS has found it difficult to capture and encourage innovation, due to a number of resource-based constraints. But it has taken a step forward and is actively encouraging a culture of innovation. The Five Year Forward View embedded change and innovation at the heart of the NHS. The vanguard sites are a great example of this and the outcomes we are seeing from these sites speak for themselves – just look at the successful integration of physiotherapists into primary care.

What are the potential benefits?

Change is vital everywhere – not only in health. It can be easy to stick with the status quo and resist change, but change should be embraced and engaged with. To reduce the strain on the NHS, we must come together as a team, and look forward, not back.

How and when can physios get involved?

Physiotherapists have a lot to gain from the programme, but also a lot to give. Many of us have great ideas but don’t know what to do with them. The programme is looking for a broad spectrum of innovations and fresh thinking across the healthcare sector. This includes care pathway re-design, personalised medicine and patient-activated self-management and workforce redesign. Other topics are reducing health inequality, creating sustainable care delivery systems and, of course, new technologies. No idea is too wild. Fellows will then be offered opportunities including mentoring, coaching, internships and industrial placements. It is a really fantastic opportunity.

Give us some tips on breaking down barriers 

  • be clear on the problem, and even clearer on the solution you have in mind. Does it solve the problem? How much does it cost? Does it add value? Once you’ve answered these questions, the chance of success will dramatically increase.
  • network across sectors. Remove yourself from silos. Reach into other sectors, such as education, business, industry, and immerse yourself in their ways of working and innovating. This insight will be invaluable
  • collect evidence and data. Without this you will struggle to convince people of the value of your idea. If you haven’t got ievidence – work with others to help you get it. Data will be key to your idea being adopted
  • try, try and try again. Don’t be put off by failure. Learn from it and start again. As former prime minister Winston Churchill said: ‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts’. 
  • Stuart Palma

Number of subscribers: 0

Log in to comment and read comments that have been added