Frontline staff are being encouraged to have their say on how the NHS can improve patient care for a chance of seeing their ideas become a reality.

NHS staff and SMEs in the North East and North Cumbria have until 17 September to submit their proposals to the Bright Ideas in Health Awards, an annual event that aims to recognise the region’s most forward-thinking health pioneers.

Now in its 15th year, the competition is run by the Academic Health Service Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC) and offers a cash prize to entrants who can demonstrate innovative ways of tackling challenges in the health industry.

Dr Nicola Wesley, chief operations officer at AHSN NENC, said: “Over the past 15 years, the awards have gone from strength to strength and have grown to become one of the most highly sought after and respected accolades in the region’s healthcare sector.

“The awards are a fantastic showcase of the bright ideas that help to improve patient care and innovation in the NHS. We eagerly anticipate another year of outstanding entries from the individuals and teams working within the NHS, industry and academia, who have risen to the challenge of developing innovative solutions to tackle the healthcare challenges we face today.”

The awards are open to all healthcare professionals in primary and secondary care, in addition to SMEs engaged in healthcare.

The categories of the 2018 competition include: Development of an Innovative Device or Technology; Service Improvement; Innovation Champion of the Year; Demonstrating an Impact upon Patient Safety and Research Impact: Improving Patient Care.

The winners of each category will be announced on 29 November at a ceremony in Newcastle. This will be attended by key decision- makers including chief executives of regional NHS Foundation Trusts, CCGs and local government representatives, as well as representatives from industry and academia.

The winners will receive money to help progress their ideas as well as specialist support from AHSN NENC, which will assist in developing, commercialising and driving the adoption of the winning proposals.

Mark Taylor, AHSN NENC innovation manager, said: “One of the great things about the Bright Ideas in Health Awards is the potential for the real world application of healthcare innovations and the benefits that they can bring about for the NHS.

“Ultimately, innovation is about spreading the adoption of ideas and sharing knowledge to achieve better outcomes for patients and it’s great to be on board and working with our healthcare partners to encourage the submission of ideas.”

Winners of 2017’s competition included a non-invasive test for bladder cancer; a specialist training programme for allergies; a laboratory sample pallet; an acute kidney Injury awareness initiative; falls prevention training; treatment for inherited kidney disease and a direct GP booking service.

Andrew Turner was part last year’s winning team at City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Turner and his colleagues bagged an award for their Laboratory Sample Pallet project within the Innovative Technology or Device category.

Turner said: “It was a great honour to win the Innovative Technology or Device category at the 2017 Bright Ideas in Health Awards, and fantastic for the whole team to be recognised for our hard work.

“The success gave us all a huge boost and demonstrated how a team from a number of different healthcare backgrounds can come together to drive greater efficiencies in the NHS.”

The awards are sponsored by Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria; Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust; City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust; Sintons LLP; North East Leadership Academy; University of Teesside and Centre for Process Innovation (CPI).

Hopeful applicants can submit their entries here.