4 A history of innovation in the NHS
Innovation can be incremental, that is to say it builds on existing ideas or practice, or it can be revolutionary and ground-breaking, but ultimately its widespread use has led to millions of lives being saved (Gerry and Wyatt, 2011). The next activity invites you to explore a timeline of innovation within the NHS in the United Kingdom and to identify key changes that led to the improvements in the healthcare of the nation.
Activity 3 A journey of innovation through time
Watch the following video about innovations in health care.
Please note: this video dates from 2009 and, due to its age, has noticeably poorer picture quality than videos uploaded today.
Transcript: Video 2 A history of health innovation
ON SCREEN: “a history of healthcare innovation”
ON SCREEN: “1867: carbolic acid used to sterilise surgical instruments”
ON SCREEN: “1896: Almoth Wright invents anti-typhoid vaccine”
ON SCREEN: “1928: Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin”
ON SCREEN: “1948: NHS is founded, unveiled by Aneurin “Nye” Bevan”
ON SCREEN: “1953: Watson and Crick discover DNA is a double helix”
ON SCREEN: “1956: Colin Murdoch invents disposable syringes”
ON SCREEN: “1965: Frank Pantridge invents portable defibrillator”
ON SCREEN: “1973: Godfrey Houndsfield invents CAT scanner”
ON SCREEN: “1989: umbilical-cord blood used to repair damage from chemotherapy”
ON SCREEN: “2000: The Sanger Centre produces a draft of the human genome”
ON SCREEN: “2003: Peter Mansfield wins Nobel Prize for the MRI scanner”
ON SCREEN: “2007: Imperial College grow a heart valve from stem cells”
ON SCREEN: “2009: Innovation for a healthier future”
ON SCREEN: “2020: miniaturised haemo dialysis equipment in universal use?”
ON SCREEN: “2030: reversal of brain pathology for dementia?”
ON SCREEN: “2040: cure for obesity?”
ON SCREEN: “In 1948 a cataract operation immobilised a patient for a week. Now it’s over in 20 minutes and most go home the same day.”
ON SCREEN: “In 1958, hip operations were so rare patients had to return them post-mortem.”
ON SCREEN: “The first UK heart transplant patient survived 46 days.”
ON SCREEN: “Transplants are now routine and at least two dozen could be done in the same period.”
ON SCREEN: “The world waited until 1978 for the first test tube baby.”
ON SCREEN: “6000 test tube babies are now born here annually.”
ON SCREEN: “The breast screening programme introduced in 1988 now saves the lives of 1400 women a year.”
ON SCREEN: “No-one now waiting more than 18 weeks for referrals to treatment.”
ON SCREEN: “9000 fewer deaths from cancer.”
ON SCREEN: “One of the highest percentages of women being screened for cervical cancer worldwide.”
ON SCREEN: “33,000 fewer deaths from cardiovascular in people under 75 in 2007 compared with 1997.”
Next, use the drag and drop activity underneath to match seven innovations with the year of their discoveries.
Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.
Carbolic acid used to sterilise surgical equipment
Almoth Wright invents anti-typhoid vaccine
NHS formed by Aneurin Bevan to provide free medical treatment for all the population
Franklin, Watson and Crick discover DNA is a double helix
Umbilical cord blood is harnessed to repair damage caused by chemotherapy
The Sanger Centre produces the human genome
Imperial College grows a heart valve from stem cells
- 1 = b
- 2 = g
- 3 = d
- 4 = f
- 5 = a
- 6 = e
- 7 = c
Finally, in the text box that follows, identify five ways in which the UK population’s health has improved.
Was there anything that surprised you in the video? You may have been slightly alarmed that hip operations were once considered so rare that the artificial hips had to be returned after a patient’s death. This may have caused some distress to families given that a deceased relative would have had to be operated on to remove the replacement. Now of course though, hip replacements are common.
So far, this section has focused on pioneering discovery in healthcare. In the next section, attention is given to change and innovation and whether it is always a good thing.