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Innovation in nursing

Innovation in nursing

It is important for nurses to share their innovations

Nurses are motivated to engage in innovative practices primarily because they seek to improve patient experiences, health outcomes and nursing practice.

There are multiple interpretations of the meaning of innovation. Here at the RCN we have adopted this definition by West and Farr (1990) to frame our understanding of all that we want to support and celebrate in nursing.

Here we understand innovation to be about purposeful change – change to realise clearly defined benefit(s). It doesn't have to be "brand new", but it is new within a specific context. It can be about the design and development of a new product or service but it can also be about the modification of an existing product or the redesign of an existing service. The novelty factor of an innovation does not necessary equate with its impact.

From this page we link to a range of resources that offer the potential to support for innovation in nursing and we celebrate examples of nursing innovations and link these to fields of practice where appropriate.

Innovation in nursing

 ...the intentional introduction and application within a role, group or organization of ideas, processes, products or procedures, new to the relevant unit of adoption, designed to significantly benefit the individual, the group, the organization or wider society

West and Farr, 1990
Innovation and Creativity at work

RCN Demonstrating Value programme

In order to gain support for the development and sustainability of nurse-led innovation, nurses not only have to demonstrate that their innovations are acceptable to patients and clinically effective; they increasingly have to also demonstrate that their innovations use limited health care resources wisely.

That is why we are working in partnership with the Office for Public Management to build nursing capability in economic assessment, and we now have over 30 case studies that illustrate how the principles of economic assessment can be applied in practice to demonstrate value.

Demonstrating Value

The RCN Demonstrating Value programme equips frontline staff with the skills, tools, and techniques to secure commitment for their service and support for ongoing development. Chose between the one-day masterclass or commission a full programme. 

Many organisations showcase health innovations which have led to improvements in patient safety, quality and outcomes and efficiency.


Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) have a remit to align education, clinical research, informatics, innovation and health care delivery in support of economic growth. The Innovation Exchange is an AHSN-coordinated approach to identify, select and support the adoption of innovations which have the potential to transform the lives of patients.

The NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA), is an award-winning national accelerator supporting dedicated individuals to scale their high impact, evidence-based innovations across the NHS and wider health care system.

A Research Portfolio is a collection of research studies that demonstrate the impact and contribution that nursing, midwifery and care staff can make to transforming health and care.


Scottish Health Innovations Ltd (SHIL) works in partnership with NHS Scotland to identify, protect, develop and commercialise healthcare innovations to improve patient care.

The NHS Scotland Health Innovation Assessment Portal is a single-point resource providing potential suppliers with information and guidance to develop innovations into products and technologies.

Project Lift is a new approach to recruit, retain, develop and manage talent within health and social care in Scotland It’s focus is to embed a consistent and understood approach to leadership across health and social care in Scotland, explicitly linked to the ethos of compassionate and collective leadership, collaborative working and the underlying values and principles of the National Performance Framework and health and social care in Scotland.