In 2021, we launched the Health Innovation Partnership, a joint venture between the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Reading, building on the solid foundations of the Joint Academic Board which was formed some 3 years before.

The clinical simulation suite at the University of Reading

Our partnership vision is to build an environment and culture which fosters excellence in education, research and innovation in a sustainable, supportive and inclusive community benefiting the health of the people of Berkshire and beyond.

Together we have worked together on three strategic areas: creating an engaged community; developing a coherent and ambitious portfolio of education activities; and driving the development of a vibrant, collaborative research culture. We have developed a number of schemes and funding routes to support these ambitions.

Through our competitive Collaborative Innovation fund (CIF), we have now awarded 50 initiatives across engagement, education and research. Some examples of what CIF funding is allowing us to do together are:

  • Create the Physicians Associate professional development programme, which led to Health Education England funding for a national roll out.
  • Support our health care educators by co-developing our joint PGCert in Health Care Education with the creation of innovative blended learning resources.
  • Embed the ENutriCardio programme developed by Food & Nutritional Sciences as an educational tool in Cardiology.

Our funding has enabled our colleagues from Henley Business School and RBFT to come together to develop an AI system which is being used to tackle health inequalities by reducing the number of missed hospital appointments. The Target Trial – a world-first study we funded – is using augmented reality to allow clinicians to interact with 3D images of prostate biopsies.

Our technical teams are working together to achieve best in class sustainability standards across our laboratories. In total, over the last 4 years, we have seen £4.97 million in external grant funding from projects funded through our partnership funds and across our organisations.

Together we have designed the Recognition of Excellence scheme (RoEs) with the award of ‘University Department of’ to successful RBFT applications. RoEs is designed to promote, encourage and acknowledge RBFT departments excelling across the areas of clinical/operational outcomes, teaching, and research. The recognition comes with development funds of  £5k award and a half-funded PhD. Six departments at RBFT now hold University status: Cardiology, Emergency Medicine, Radiology, Stroke Medicine, Berkshire Kidney Unit and Critical Care Medicine.

Professor Orla Kennedy is Strategic Partnership Director (Health) at the University of Reading.