Briefing

Leveraging the experiences of NHS staff volunteering overseas

This briefing summarises the role for NHS managers to identify and adopt innovations into the NHS, via staff undertaking voluntary work overseas.

20 October 2020

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This briefing summarises the role for NHS managers to identify and adopt innovations into the NHS, via staff undertaking voluntary work overseas.

As a publicly funded healthcare system, the NHS has financial and system challenges that innovations from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) can help to address. As a result of their commonly low financial investments, these innovations are referred to frugal innovations.

NHS staff volunteering overseas experience these frugal innovations but support and processes often aren’t in place to facilitate sharing them with colleagues and the wider NHS.

This briefing summarises the role and opportunity for NHS managers to support identifying and adopting innovations into the NHS, via staff undertaking voluntary work in LMIC countries.

Key points

  • Innovations come in many forms, but to be defined as such their application must improve a healthcare service.
  • Innovations developed in LMICs (frugal innovations) could have significant benefits to the NHS.
  • The NHS has a long history of participating in overseas development, but the full benefits of this to the NHS are often underappreciated.
  • NHS mangers have a significant role to play in supporting NHS participation in overseas development work and in sharing learnings from it, but this has been long underutilised.
  • Pre-departure preparation, dissemination insight and creating a supportive environment are just some of the areas where managers can have an impact on maximising the experience and benefits of volunteering overseas.