Public Release: 

£2.7m European funding to improve e-health in Cornwall, England

The University of Plymouth and a collaboration of Cornish and national partners have been awarded £2.7m European funding to improve the use of e-health in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

University of Plymouth

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Credit: European Union European Regional Development Fund

The University of Plymouth and a collaboration of Cornish and national partners have been awarded £2.7m European funding to improve the use of e-health in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The project, known as E-health Productivity and Innovation in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (EPIC), will involve doctors, nurses, care homes, patients, University academics and small companies in the region to help find the best uses of the internet, apps, and robotics in health and social care.

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), EPIC starts this month and runs for three years.

Initiatives could include use of video calls to better connect care home residents, development and implementation of apps that support people wanting to make positive behavioural changes, care robots to comfort people with dementia, or even the use of drones to get emergency equipment to rural locations quickly.

The collaboration includes Kernow Health CIC, Cornwall Partners in Care, Patients Association, and Creative England, who will work to find technologies that can best help improve services, along with those which are, or can be, produced within Cornwall.

The ERDF grant pays for seven project posts, support for small technology companies and a Challenge Fund of £600,000. Grants from this fund will support small and medium-sized enterprises based in Cornwall, offering the potential to create new jobs and support business growth.

Project staff will support clinicians, patients, carers and others in bidding for funds from the Challenge Fund to develop and test their ideas.

The project will cover all of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly but have bases in general practices and care homes in St Ives, Redruth, and Liskeard as well as University centres in Truro.

Dr Dan Rainbow from Stennack Surgery in St Ives explains why the project will be beneficial for the county: "After 15 years of working with patients in this community, it's obvious that there are gaps in certain areas where I'm sure technology has a role to play in helping to support our patients," he said.

"I think technology has had a fairly chequered history in the NHS over the years, and it's exciting to work with people who understand the technology to build up a way of working with our patients from the grass roots upwards to make it work in practice."

Project director, Ray Jones, Professor of E-Health at the University of Plymouth, said: "This is a great opportunity for Cornwall to become a centre of excellence in the use of technology for health and social care. It involves people with a range of expertise from across the University, including nursing, medicine, psychology, robotics, business, and public health, working with numerous collaborators across Cornwall and taking a 'bottom up' approach to find or develop technologies that will improve services.

"The project involves an international link with universities in Brisbane Australia. At the end of three years we hope to have found new ways in which Cornwall can 'export' its expertise or services to the rest of the UK or beyond while also effectively delivering health and social care for the whole of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly."

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A series of webinars are being delivered for people to find out more about the E-health Productivity and Innovation in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (EPIC) project.

The first, which will give an overview of the project, takes place at 1pm GMT on Wednesday 10 May. To register, visit https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4145098744087840258.

A full list of project webinars can be viewed at https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/epic

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