NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo

Last week, the FaithAction team led the charge of the voluntary sector descending on the NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo, a yearly event taking place in Manchester which brings together different parts of the health and care sector to talk about innovation. This year’s Health and Care Innovation Expo once again focused on the biggest health and care issues and developments as the NHS continues to implement its vision for the future, the Five Year Forward View.

FaithAction had a key role this year: not only were we attending, but I was on the steering group that came together to plan and develop the Expo agenda. I also acted as the co-ordinating point for the voluntary sector, particularly working with the Health and Social Care Voluntary Sector Strategic Partnership to have a stand representing the partnership, and to run a number of sessions across the programme, highlighting the role of the voluntary sector in health and care.

The thing that hits me all the time at events like this, and even more so this year, is how desperate people are to hear about what the voluntary sector is doing locally – especially faith groups. There is a general recognition that faith-based organisations and the wider voluntary sector have a lot to contribute and do amazing things… but there isn’t necessarily resource from either the voluntary sector or mainstream health and care services to connect together. That is why we have a vital role in doing the ‘connecting’ bit and raising awareness of what faith groups do.

For example, did you know that we’ve been asked a question by the Department of Health relating to ‘out of hospital’ care and identifying what faith groups do to help keep people out of hospital? We know that faith groups do a lot, but what does it look like in practical terms? If your group does things like taking people meals for a week once they leave hospital, or going round and talking to them if they can’t go out, and that means that you are stopping them being isolated – we want to hear about it, so we can highlight what you’re doing to those who want to know!

We also know that faith-based organisations lead the way in innovation, often having ideas and implementing them in the local community. My hope is that in future years, the NHS Innovation Expo will be picking up on some of these innovations and how they are improving the NHS system.