The City & Hackney CCG Innovation Fund

In July 2013, the NHS issued its ‘Call to Action’, aiming to prompt an open and honest debate about the future shape of the NHS in order to meet rising demand, introduce new technology and meet the expectations of its patients. In November 2013, City & Hackney CCG presented its commissioning intentions - their plans on how they intend to commission services for the year ahead and what the priorities will be. Local residents, service users and stakeholders were invited to the CCG’s Commissioning Intentions event in November 2013 to discuss and influence these plans and to talk about how health services can best meet people’s needs. The Innovation Fund was created in response to the thought-provoking ideas and comments received at this event. These ideas were about more holistic and user-centred service solutions.

The fund was designed as an opportunity to surface and support innovative practice, learn from ideas that are tested in the real world, and use the lessons to shape and improve the eco-system of services available to people in City and Hackney.

In May 2014 the CCG issued an open call for ideas looking for innovations that had the potential to deliver significant improvements in the health and wellbeing of City and Hackney residents. The aim of the fund was to surface solutions that met the four themes of the fund: integrated services, building independence, confident and informed users, and involving and listening to patients. These themes were developed based on the ideas raised in November and further community involvement through a workshop attended by representatives of the patient and public involvement group.

In addition to the fund themes, the CCG were also looking to support projects that:

•showed a deep understanding of the needs of communities and could evidence demand for the interventions they propose

•articulated a strong case for the change they want to see in services and practices

•had great ideas about ways to improve and radically transform existing practices, working inside or outside of mainstream services currently provided

•were able to strongly demonstrate how they are involving users in shaping, delivering and reviewing the solutions they propose to implement

•are working in partnership to deliver integrated solutions

The Response:

The call for ideas stimulated interest from a wide pool of organisations ranging from local social enterprises to bigger and more established charities working nationally and internationally. The CCG received 65 applications in total, spanning physical and mental health conditions; acute, planned and long term care; and addressing health and wellbeing from cradle to grave.

Several proposals looked to make services more accessible to traditionally disadvantaged groups such as ethnic minorities, or people with conditions that make use of mainstream services difficult or stigmatising. Enabling patients to be informed about the services that are available to them, and supporting their attendance and use of mainstream services was a common theme across many applications.

There were also a high number of applications seeking to tackle mental health problems and long term conditions, reflecting high levels of need for community-based solutions in these domains.

A wide variety of delivery mechanisms were proposed for new services, including peer support and mentoring, volunteering, timebanking, activity groups, digital software, and mobile applications.

The Selection Process:

In stage 1 of the process, applicants were invited to submit a short application form. Applications were reviewed and shortlisted against three core criteria:

  1. Idea in a nutshell

•Are the proposed solution and its aims clear, does it propose an innovative and interesting approach?

  1. Case for Change

•Does the applicant have a deep understanding of need based on meaningful user involvement, a compelling vision for change and evidence of demand for their solution?

  1. Strategic Fit

•Does the proposed solution align with Fund theme(s), does it have the potential to deliver significant impact for the people of City and Hackney, are its lessons/model likely to be transferrable/ replicable across other services?

34 applications were shortlisted and in stage 2 of the process, these applicants were invited to answer some additional questions that asked them to be clear about their proposed impact and to provide a project plan and outline budget. For stage 2, we added a further criterion for assessing applications:

  1. Feasibility

•Does the applicant have the right experience and skill set, do they set out a convincing plan, a realistic budget and do they have good ideas about how to measure the impact of their solution?

The strongest applications demonstrated a solid understanding of the need and demand for their proposed solution generated out of their experience of the issue they were trying to address and supported by testing their assumptions with prospective users/clients. They communicated a compelling case for change and were able to articulate a clear vision of how their solution would move toward a future that ensures better outcomes for City and Hackney residents. They also had a clear understanding of the state of play in existing mainstream and commissioned services and in some cases had already secured a partnership with other organisations or mainstream services working in the area.

Applications that demonstrated a strong understanding of City and Hackney and drew upon local data to back-up their analysis of the current state of play were scored highly. We looked for applications that exemplified user involvement, co-design, and co-production in the development of their idea as well as in the proposed solution. Strong applications tended to show rigorous thinking about impact and produced targets that were significant and credible within the timescale of the project, offering value for money invested by the CCG.

High potential ideas had an innovative character and their associated plans balanced an amount of experimentation and service learning with credible plans for future sustainability.

Applications that scored less well tended to be weaker at showing clear evidence of demand from users and were less able to demonstrate that their project met the fund themes and CCG commissioning priorities.

Eleven projects were selected to receive investment from the Innovation Fund. The mix of projects that made it into the final portfolio of awardees reflects the variety of projects that came forward through the call for ideas and application process. Details of these projects can be found below.

Programme Board / Organisation / Proposal
Children / Family Action / Social Prescribing Programme for children aged 5-11; promoting good health and independence, ensuring children have access to a range of services, support and activities.
Long Term Conditions / St Joseph’s Hospice / ‘Compassionate Neighbours’ project will offer competent and confident social and practical support to people living at home with a long term or a terminal condition.
Long Term Conditions / Epilepsy Society / Setting up and delivering self-management groups for people with epilepsy.
Maternity / Hackney Playbus / Facilitating groups that take vulnerable mothers and carers of babies from the ‘one to one’ support offered by Shoreditch Trust’s Bump Buddies and support them in accessing maternity services, children’s centres and other health services.
Mental Health / Mind / Establishing a Recovery Campus in a style of a college campus with the aim of empowering clients via delivering a range of self-management, improved access to information and a peer support system.
Mental Health / Sunbeams / Setting up a peer support (‘big sister’) system for vulnerable Charedi girls.
Planned Care / RLBS / Engaging with young visually impaired people through regular Saturday sports sessions.
Planned Care / BikurCholim / Working with the Orthodox Jewish Community to set up peer support groups in particular focusing on Crohns, Colitis and other gastric conditions.
Urgent Care / Doctors of the World / Working with migrant and refugee community in Hackney to provide a service to advocate on behalf of vulnerable people to access timely care working with local GPs and A&E providers.
Prescribing / MIEM (Medical Information for ethnic minorities) / Software to develop and print bilingual pharmacy dispensing labels for ethnic minorities. Possibility of developing an app that will work as a reminder for the person to take their medication accurately.
All / Volunteer Centre Hackney / Neighbourhood Skills Share project based on time banking. Supporting vulnerable people in taking more active role, building confidence and social networks.

Next Steps:

The successful bidders have been informed and subject to due diligent financial the projects are expected to start over the early autumn. Each proposal will be adopted by the relevant Programme Board and the Programme Board Directors will work together with the provider to put together a work plan and a plan for monitoring the delivery and progress as well as evaluating the outcomes. It is also worth noting that a large number of good quality applications and although we couldn’t fund all of them, the Programme Board Directors have expressed their interest in exploring some of the proposals that missed out on this occasion, in the future.

Contact details for the successful organisations and how to access their services will be published soon. For up to date information on the Innovation Fund please visit or contact the CCG on 020 7683 4222.