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PolyPhotonix win NHS innovation award for Noctura 400

Hundreds of healthcare professionals gathered to recognise the innovative ideas of frontline staff at the 12th Bright Ideas in Health Awards.

The annual event, held at the Hilton Hotel Newcastle Gateshead, shines the spotlight on product and service innovation ideas being developed by NHS staff and healthcare SMEs in the North East and North Cumbria.

This year’s ceremony saw a range of pioneering ideas celebrated including a sleep mask which provides non-invasive treatment for diabetic patients with sight problems, a clinic that supports patients suffering chronic fatigue and a specially developed primary care role to support dementia sufferers and their carers.

The winners in the five categories received a cash prize to help progress their ideas as well as ongoing specialist support from organisers NHS Innovations North, a service delivered by RTC North Ltd on behalf of the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC).

A drug-free solution to alleviate the often debilitating symptoms of migraines picked up the first prize in the Innovative Technology or Device category. Developed by Dr Jitka Vanderpol at Cumbria Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust, the COOLHEAD pilot trial researched the benefits of intranasal evaporative cooling for the treatment of migraine.

Dr Vanderpol said: “I am delighted to win a Bright Ideas in Health Award 2015. It is great recognition of not just my work and effort, but also the efforts of the whole research team for their support and intellectual and academic contribution to this study.

“The results of our pilot trial are promising, 87% of our trial patients benefited from this treatment and found it superior or equal to the regular pharmacological treatments they have used.”

The CCG Innovation within Primary Care award was given to a project aimed at improving dementia care in General Practice. Led by Sheinaz Stansfield, Practice Manager at Oxford Terrace and Rawling Road Medical Group in Gateshead, the role of Primary Care Navigator was created to help address the complex health and social needs of patients suffering dementia by providing improved navigation through the system.

Sheinaz said: “We weren’t expecting to win at all. The award is a testament to how far the team has come with this project in less than a year. It’s an amazing achievement for us as a small practice.”

County Durham’s PolyPhotonix Ltd picked up the SME Innovation in Healthcare award for its Noctura 400, a sleep mask for diabetic patients with sight complications. The invention provides a non-invasive alternative to current treatments for patients suffering sight problems as a result of their diabetes.

Richard Kirk, Chief Executive at PolyPhotonix said: “PolyPhotonix are delighted to have won the SME Innovation in Healthcare award. The Noctura 400 sleep mask is a revolutionary treatment for patients with Diabetic Retinopathy and we have received a lot of funding to develop this innovation thanks to the NHS. We are thrilled to have received this recognition, which builds credibility with our stakeholders and showcases the achievements of the PolyPhotonix team.”

First place in the Service Improvement category was awarded to Professor Julia Newton at The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for the Clinics for Research in Themed Assessment (CRESTA) Fatigue Clinic, which was developed with the aim of meeting the needs of all patients with the chronic fatigue.

Professor Newton said: “I am absolutely thrilled that our idea has been recognised with this award. It’s a wonderful recognition for all of the team’s hard work and dedication. I am particularly grateful to our team of Health Champions, all of whom are ex-patients, who have been working with the clinical team to ensure that we give patients affected by fatigue the best possible support.”

First place in the Patient and Public Involvement – Making Research Better category, sponsored by the Clinical Research Network: North East and North Cumbria and AHSN NENC, was awarded to The Durham Constipation Service. The service, which has a strong focus on patient involvement, was developed by Professor Yan Yiannakou at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust to provide high quality care to patients with chronic constipation.

Dr Nicola Wesley, Head of NHS Innovations North and Director of Innovation at the AHSN NENC, said: “It has been another fantastic year for the Bright Ideas in Health Awards with scores of people submitting their ideas across a broad range of healthcare areas both within the NHS and in the private sector.

“The awards aim to identify, celebrate and support healthcare innovations being developed here in the North East and North Cumbria. All of the winners and finalists should be proud of their achievements and we hope they will inspire even more people to become pioneers in the healthcare sector in years to come.

“We are looking forward to supporting the winning innovators as they develop their ideas and helping them achieve their ultimate goal of improving the care of patients in the region.”

To find out more about the annual Bright Ideas in Health Awards, which was this year sponsored by the AHSN NENC,NIHR CRN: North East and North Cumbria, Archer IP, RTC North Ltd, Onyx Health and ERDF, visit or email

The full list of winners and runners up in the five categories were as follows:

Service Improvement
1st place: CRESTA Fatigue Clinic – Professor Julia Newton, Honorary Consultant Physician at The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Dean of Clinical Medicine & Professor of Ageing and Medicine at Newcastle University.

2nd place: Services for Children and Young People with Type 1 Diabetes – Liz Allan, Telehealth Engagement Lead at NHS England.

Innovative Technology or Device
1st place: Migraine Therapy – Dr Jitka Vanderpol, Consultant Neurologist at Cumbria Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust.

2nd place: Dementia Patients Undergoing X-Ray – Karen Ainsworth, Sister at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

CCG Innovation within Primary Care
1st place: Improving Dementia Care in General Practice – Sheinaz Stansfield, Practice Manager at Oxford Terrace and Rawling Road Medical Group, Gateshead CCG.

2nd place: Community Pulmonary Embolism Support – Dr Rashpal Singh, South Tees CCG.

SME Innovation in Healthcare
1st place: Noctura 400 – Sleep Mask for Diabetic Patients with Sight Complications – Richard Kirk, CEO, PolyPhotonix Ltd, County Durham.

2nd place: Podfo – Custom Made Foot Orthoses – Heather Peacock, Peacocks Medical Group, Newcastle.

Patient and Public Involvement – Making Research Better, sponsored by CRN: North East and North Cumbria and AHSN NENC
1st place: The Durham Constipation Service – Professor Yan Yiannakou, Consultant Neurogastroenterologist and Director of Research & Development, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.

2nd place: Development of a Test for Amblyopia and Strabismus – Dr Kathleen Vancleef, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Newcastle University.

Go to NHS Innovations North website →