Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Page last updated: 12 May 2022
Organisations we regulate

Making innovation part of the day job


Newcastle Hospitals is a large teaching hospital with over 1,400 beds, around 15,000 staff, and an annual income of £1.1 billion. It offers a wide range of specialist as well as community services. It has received successive CQC ‘outstanding’ ratings from 2016 to 2019. The trust has a strong reputation for research and innovation and has a central research office that closely links to local universities and the region’s NICE external assessment centre. It hosts the region’s clinical research network and a biomedical research centre.


A culture of innovation has existed at the trust since May 2015, and the creation of the Enterprise, Business and Development Directorate in 2019 has given this fresh impetus. Innovation forms a key part of the trust strategy for 2019 to 2024, and the support of innovation is a core function of its newly formed commercial enterprise unit. The trust has created cornerstone programme called Flourish, to “ensure that each member of staff is able to liberate their potential”.

There is an emphasis on frontline staff sharing ideas and having delegated authority to make decisions. Conversations between leadership and staff focus on “What do you think of this?”, not “You must do this”. Staying on top of innovations in their field and progressing new innovations is seen as part of the day job for all clinical staff.

The trust takes a proportionate approach to administration and governance that is not overly bureaucratic. Staff are not expected to create extensive business cases if they want to embark on a new innovation or adoption project. Focus is on building evidence and testing the practical use of innovation, allowing quicker measurement of progress and permitting the trust to ‘fail sooner but succeed faster’.

One practical tool in place that fuels innovation is an ideas portal for all staff. This includes new innovations and service improvements, as well as problems (an essential part of innovation is working together to solve problems). All ideas are evaluated against the trust’s strategic framework (Patients, People, Partnerships, Pioneers and Performance) and there is a research and innovation tracking system to support this.

The trust has strong links with the North East and North Cumbria AHSN and in April 2020 became part of an internationally renowned Academic Health Science Centre called Newcastle Health Innovation Partners, along with Newcastle University, Newcastle City Council and other healthcare providers, with a strong focus on research, innovation and enterprise.


The trust has elicited over 300 solutions and problems from staff since May 2015 – it has supported innovation and improvement across all areas of activity. This includes setting up support groups, specific training pathways in critical care, delivering diagnostic testing for people using blood thinning medication to the community, using improvement methods to reduce hypoglycaemia rates by 50% and insulin errors by 70% on a vascular surgical ward, and introducing robot-assisted lung resection surgery.

The trust has played a significant role in developing nationally endorsed innovations, such as Transfers of Care Around Medicines (TCAM). It has also adopted other nationally endorsed innovations, including PReCEPT, HeartFlow, and Endocuff, and has an ongoing evaluation programme around each.

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