KGH Dragons commit £100,000 to make staff ideas for improvement a reality

L-R: Liz Jeeves; Goyas Miah; Alan Burns; Lorna Dodge; Louise Huitson, who pitched for funding for her patient buggy idea and William Church

A Dragon’s Den-style event at Kettering General Hospital has resulted in five key areas of the hospital benefiting from just under £100,000 in investment.

The event, during which ten teams pitched their ideas for improving patient care and experience to a panel of five Dragons from the local business community and a voting audience, saw around 150 people attend and was open to members of the public.

Pitches ranged from silicone scrotums to enable staff to teach men how to check for testicular cancer, right through to a proposal to secure specialist data analyst support to develop an artificial intelligence algorithm to predict and schedule hip and knee replacement operations with the aim of moving from ‘just in case’ to ‘just in time’.

Other ideas included a patient buggy scheme to help less able patients and visitors move across the hospital site; an Audit App that would free up staff who spend time preparing audit reports to care for patients; the creation of a cancer support information hub; and a virtual learning ward to bring non-medical staff into the healthcare profession to train and work their way up which, in turn, could help address staffing issues.

There was also an initiative to get patients out of pyjamas and up and dressed each day, boosting their mental health and reducing the risk of muscle loss; a request for new thoracoscopy equipment to drain lung fluid and capture images of the lung less invasively, allowing for patients to go home sooner after the procedure; and a proposal from the hospital’s urology team to train and support community staff in catheter removal which would enable more patients to remain at home rather than come into hospital for the service.

A case was also put forward for AIRVO devices which would replace traditional oxygen masks and work out cheaper per machine, last longer and were more comfortable for patients as they cover less of the face.

The Dragons – Alan Burns, Chairman at Kettering General Hospital; Liz Jeeves, Presenter/Producer at Connect FM; William Church Managing Director of Cheaney Shoes; Goyas Miah, Owner of The Raj Restaurant; and Lorna Dodge, Director of S.C. Agency – listened to the pitches and awarded the money as follows:

  1. Thoracoscopy equipment – £24,000
  2. Out of pyjamas – £5,000
  3. Virtual training ward – £35,000
  4. Silicone scrotum – £675
  5. AIRVO – £15,000
  6. Patient buggy – £20,000

The event was the brainchild of Alan Burns. He said: “Our staff are always coming up with fantastic ideas to help patients. The purpose of the event was to demonstrate to staff that we are listening but only have limited funds. Now, we have committed in front of a room full of people that we will be investing money from our Innovation Fund* into making these ideas happen. Not only that, we will provide the teams with project management support and access to any resources they need. In return, they will provide myself and the rest of staff with monthly updates on progress.

“For those ideas that didn’t receive the funding, we will look at other possible options to raise money for them as all of those who pitched tonight had great ideas and had been shortlisted from an original 24 applications. I know some of the Dragons have also pledged to help those that were unsuccessful on the night.”

Simon Weldon, Chief Executive at Kettering General Hospital, added: “The event was fantastic and we were able to show the wide range of ideas hospital staff have every day and every single one of the ideas pitched had patients at its heart. As with the real Dragon’s Den, the real work starts now and the Board is committed to taking on these ideas and seeing them through to become a reality.”