Page last updated: 12 May 2022
Organisations we regulate

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a significant challenge for our health and social care system.

Unprecedented measures have been taken across the sector and wider society to minimise harm and avoid services becoming overwhelmed.

Facing up to this challenge has required a huge effort from the people who work in health and social care, but it has also required people to find innovative ways of providing services and collaborating across local systems.

Despite the many challenges of the pandemic, we have seen the health and care sector adapt at scale and pace through this time, with many planned innovations brought forward, and greater sharing of information across the sector.

Over the longer term, health and care services will face continuing pressures as populations age and our health and social care needs become more complex. But at the same time there are opportunities to use new ideas and technologies to improve the way we deliver care, improve outcomes for people who use services and become more efficient.

Innovation is often talked about as the way in which we can meet these challenges and take these opportunities, but there has sometimes been a lack of clarity around what innovation means and how to do it well. As we’ve continued to develop our understanding of innovation in the sector, it has become clear to us that providers of health and social care services play a crucial role – and one that needs greater recognition. It is these providers, either individually or working together as part of a local health and social care system, that identify, manage and deliver the innovations that make a real difference to the care that people receive.

However, there are few resources available to help providers to understand how they should approach innovation, and there is a lack of clarity around what regulators and other national bodies expect to see.

This publication aims to fill that gap by providing a set of evidence-based principles that can underpin innovation in health and social care providers and help them to deliver real improvements for the people who use their services. This isn’t an innovation methodology – since the evidence tells us there are many ways to succeed – but it is a set of things that all providers should think about and incorporate in their approach.

Importantly, these principles represent a consensus across all the national organisations that are co-signatories to this publication. This means that the principles will be reflected in the way that the system is governed and regulated, so that providers can innovate with confidence.

Alongside these principles, we also want to dispel some myths that get in the way of innovation. There is a tendency in our sector to think that invention is more valuable than adoption, and that it is only the biggest and most established providers that we should look to for solutions. We want to start to correct this and encourage greater enthusiasm to adopt some of the fantastic ideas already out there.

We hope that this publication can be the start of a conversation about how we build our innovation capability in the health and social care system, so that we develop and spread new ideas more quickly and respond more effectively to COVID-19 and other challenges. If we can do that, the potential benefits to people who use services are enormous.

Chris Day
Director of Engagement,
Care Quality Commission

Matt Whitty
Chief Executive,
Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC)

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