Innovation: “An idea or product new to the NHS or applied in a way that is new to the NHS, which significantly improves the quality of health and care wherever it is applied”.

-Innovation, Health and Wealth. Accelerating Adoption and Diffusion in the NHS (2011).

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is enthusiastic in encouraging innovation in every department.  We want our staff to be creative and feel supported when they are being innovative.

Bright Ideas are innovative solutions to problems we face in our day to day work. They can be simple changes to an existing product (or service) or a radical new invention.

The Innovation Department is here to help you protect your idea and to bring it to life!

If you have an idea you would like to share with the Innovation Department please complete this form and email to brightideas@chsft.nhs.uk.

In parallel to facilitating Bright Ideas from staff we are working with small and medium companies to facilitate access and uptake of innovative technologies and treatments for eligible patients.

Any SMEs who would like access to the NHS please complete this form and email to brightideas@chsft.nhs.uk  

An innovation doesn’t have to be a high tech device or technology, it can also be something simple that helps to improve the quality of care or patient experience. A Bright Idea can be the development of process or the identification of an unmet need in your service. You don’t need to have the answers, come to us with your unmet needs and we will work with you and partners to find a solution.

The team can be contacted through the switchboard or by emailing them at brightIdeas@chsft.nhs.uk

Meet the team

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is enthusiastic in encouraging innovation in every department. We want our staff to be creative and feel supported when they are being innovative.

A bright idea can be the development of a product, a process or the identification of an unmet need in your service.

An innovation doesn’t have to be a high tech device or technology, it can also be something simple that helps to improve the quality of care or patient experience.

Innovation is simply about applying new and better solutions to problems.

The Innovation Team, based at Sunderland Royal Hospital in the education centre, is funded by the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria to support innovation across the Trust. Innovation is led by Mr. Kim Hinshaw, Director of Research and Innovation and supported by Deputy Directors Dr. Imran Ahmed, who leads on devices and digital technology and Mrs. Deepali Varma who takes the lead on service improvements and point of care testing. The department is managed by an innovation manager, Dr. Teresa Fortune, who works closely with innovation scouts across the Healthcare Group to facilitate Bright Ideas from staff and engage local companies to commercialise innovations.

The team can be contacted through the switchboard or by emailing them at brightIdeas@chsft.nhs.uk

The Innovation Team is part funded by the Academic Health Service Network for the North East and North Cumbria and the European Regional Development Fund.

Director of Research and Innovation

Kim Hinshaw: kim.hinshaw@chsft.nhs.uk

Deputy Director of Innovation: Devices and Digital Technology                    

Imran Ahmed: Imran.ahmed@chsft.nhs.uk

Deputy Director of Innovation: Service Improvements and POC Testing

Deepali Varma: Deepali.varma@chsft.nhs.uk

Innovation Manager

Teresa Fortune: Teresa.fortune@chsft.nhs.uk

Innovation Administration Assistants

Katherine Ashby: Katherine.ashby@chsft.nhs.uk   

Claire Burn: claire.burn@chsft.nhs.uk  

Innovation Champions

The department is very fortunate to be supported by Innovation Champions, who help us to identify and assess ideas. They are here to help and support your innovation.

The Innovation Champions are individuals from a range of professions who assist the Innovation Team with Bright Ideas, spreading innovations and learning from industry leaders.

Supported by the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria, Champions cover the Healthcare Group across the following clinical and support groups:

Healthcare Scientist

Andrew Knight Consultant Medical Physicist: andrew.knight@chsft.nhs.uk

Michael Cox Head of Biomedical Engineering/Telecommunications: michael.cox@stft.nhs.uk

Allied Health Professional

Ruth Raynor SALT Head of Service (Adult Services): ruth.raynor@chsft.nhs.uk

Medicine and Dental

Ala Mohammed Consultant in A&E: ala.mohammed@chsft.nhs.uk

Nursing and Maternity

Helen Nesbitt Senior Nurse Workforce and Role Development: helen.nesbitt@chsft.nhs.uk

Simon Ayre Wellbeing Practitioner: simon.ayre@stft.nhs.uk

Katie Darby-Villis Sister in Out of Hours Palliative Care Team: Katie.Darbyvillis@stft.nhs.uk

Yan Cunningham Orthopaedic Practitioner: yan.cunningham@chsft.nhs.uk 

What do the Scouts do?

They help you develop your idea and provide expertise and support to help you bring your idea to life.

Innovation Scouts attend the innovation review group which meets quarterly to discuss every Bright Idea and how best the organisation can support those ideas for patient benefit.

If you are interested in becoming an Innovation Scout please contact the Innovation Team: brightideas@chsft.nhs.uk

Upcoming events

Innovation Showcase: Diagnostic and Imaging in Healthcare

12th March 2020

12:00pm - 17:00pm

Education Centre, Sunderland Royal Hospital

To register your interest please email: brightideas@chsft.nhs.uk  

View our poster here

Register here

Past events

Innovation Showcase : In the Community

Programme                      Event Summary

Innovation Showcase : Education 26th June 2019

Programme                      Event Summary

Innovation Showcase: It all starts with a good idea 18th March 2019

Programme                      Event Summary


Innovation Showcase: Infection 1st November 2018

Programme                     Event Summary

Innovation Showcase: Patient Experience 70 years 5th July 2018

Programme                    Event Summary

Innovation Showcase: Digital 1st March 2018

Programme                    Event Summary

Successful innovations

All About Me Boards

Debbie Hindmarsh and the Acute Stroke Unit team developed re-useable white board templates to enable compassionate care. Families are able to fill in the relevant sections or add photos of the patient’s loved ones, which helps the nursing staff to get to know the patient first, rather than their illness/disability/disease. Nursing can be personalised and tailored to the patient’s needs.

This simple idea has dramatically improved the experience of patients in the Acute Stroke Unit and has been adopted by numerous departments across the Trust and by NHS Trusts and hospices nationally.

This simple but powerful innovation was shortlisted in the Kate Grainger Compassionate Care Awards and nominated for RCNI Awards 2019.

To read the full story of the All About Me Boards please click here


Dr. Imran Ahmed, Consultant Neonatologist at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, Kromek and Durham University have been working on the Craniosynostosis project for a number of years. The research project investigated whether the use of a low dose X-ray technique can differentiate between cranial bone and suture fibre in Craniosynostosis.

Using computational and experimental methods, the group received promising results, aiding in the detection of Craniosynostosis eliminating the need for unnecessary CT scans, which can pose increased risk to health due to the radiation exposure.

The proof of concept work we undertake with collaborating universities can have a big impact upon future technologies and ongoing research. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement for both the Trust and the students. It can provide essential evidence and information when applying for grants and funding for research.

To read the full story of Craniosynostosis please click here


Fracture Clinic Animation

After attending one of the innovation showcases at the Trust, they were inspired by the work of Matthew Briggs, medical artist, senior lecturer and programme leader for Illustration and Design at the University of Sunderland.

They have since collaborated with Matthew who has produced medical animations for surgical procedures which can be displayed for patients in the fracture clinic waiting areas.

To read the full story of the Fracture Clinic Animation please click here

Shoulder Bench

Dr. Ala Mohammed is a consultant in emergency medicine at our Trust.

Dr. Mohammed created the shoulder bench to improve the service pathway of patients who present with a shoulder dislocation. Along with Dr. Philip Dowson they have successfully introduced the shoulder bench at our Trust  with outstanding results - shorter waiting times and improved patient experience with less cost and risk associated with sedation.

The full story of the Shoulder Bench is available here

Tookie Vest for Renal Patients

Dr. Saeed Ahmed and the renal team, in collaboration with MedConnect North and the Innovations Team, helped to facilitate patient centred focus groups. Together, renal patients, clinicians and medical innovators from Tookie Limited re-designed the Tookie Vest for Oncology to create the Tookie Vest for Renal. The Tookie Vest for Renal is designed to secure central venous catheters in place for haemodialysis patients.

Tookie Limited has spanned the Bright Ideas Pathway with assistance and support from the renal team as well as the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria, through Medconnect North.

The collaboration was shortlisted in the 2017 Bright Ideas in Health Awards Collaboration with Industry category and Tookie Limited won first prize in the Medilink Northern Powerhouse Healthcare Business Awards in the Innovator category 2018.

The Tookie Vest for Renal is now available for NHS organisations to purchase through the NHS supply chain, with royalty shares coming back to the Trust to re-invest in patient care.

This video is Stephen Tooke explaining the concept of the Tookie Vest.  The video was filmed by NIHRTV to find out more about their campaign and how they assist drive Innovation in the NHS please follow this link.


Dr Karen Horridge is a Consultant Paediatrician (Disability) in Sunderland and immediate past Chair of the British Academy of Childhood Disability.

There is vast variation in outcomes for disabled children. There are no national data about who or where disabled children are in the UK or what their multi-faceted needs are.

Using SNOMED CT, a Disabilities Terminology Set (DTS) subset was created. It was designed to embrace the range of needs experienced by disabled children and their families at different stages of their care journeys, so that these could be accurately recorded. An explanatory glossary was produced in which each term was clearly explained, to encourage consistent use of the same terms across all care settings.

SNOMED CT was shortlisted in the Medilinks North of England Healthcare Business awards 2019.  

Click here to learn more about SNOMED CT


The Innovation Department continue to collaborate and facilitate other projects.  We are currently working with Optometrist Simon Berry who has developed the Visual Fixation System (VFS).

To watch an interview with Simon please click here.

Little Inventors

Little Inventors is the brainchild of artist and designer Dominic Wilcox, in collaboration with expert educationalists, designers and curators.  It turns children’s ideas into reality.

Their aim is to inspire and support children around the world to use their wonderful imaginations to think up ingenious, fantastical, funny or perfectly practical invention ideas with no limits! The children and the Little Inventors team work with experts and professionals to turn the most innovative ideas into real objects for amazing Little Inventor exhibitions. All children retain the copyright in their invention drawings.

Sunderland Royal Hospital and Little Inventors

Sunderland Royal Hospital worked with Little Inventors to help develop the Pulsar Cast designed by Andrew aged 9. Our Innovation team helps to bring bright ideas in healthcare to fruition.  Our staff in medical physics and the fracture clinic team joined forces, using their expertise to take Andrew’s drawing and help Andrew create his invention.

We hope this inspires other Little Inventors to draw/create their great ideas and to share them with the world!