Thinking of Oscar
PEDS2040 Conference 2017


Our correspondent in Miami.

This week David has travelled to Miami to attend a Paediatric Innovation Conference called PEDS2040 ( on behalf of Thinking of Oscar. PEDS2040 is an annual meeting of the international Society for Pediatric Innovation (iSPI) that connects innovative healthcare institutions, clinicians, parents, patients, entrepreneurs, startups and industry leaders.

This is a critical trip for Thinking of Oscar and this is why; There are three main elements to the work of Thinking of Oscar. Fundraising is one, spending the money in suitable ways in order to generate benefit is another. But the most important of all is the process of identifying which problems to solve.

David and I are on a journey in so many ways ourselves. With respect to the charity we have started off as grieving parents but we are becoming grieving parents who understand a bit about the key issues in UK Child Healthcare. We’ll become really useful when we are subject matter experts in our own right – at a parental not clinical level of course, but with a deep understanding of where we can collectively have a positive and immediate impact.

Currently there is broad agreement that paediatric healthcare in the UK is in some instances well below other countries and that there is huge scope for innovation and sharing best practice.  However there are of course many areas where we are world leaders, take for example the work that Great Ormond Street are doing with their research strategy in certain areas, the brand new £300M facility at Alder Hey in Liverpool and others that we are yet to discover.  However, and its a big however, these levels of innovation are by no means pervasive and this makes Thinking of Oscar relevant.  To that end we are fortunate enough to have a set of innovation leaders as our clinical advisors and we intend to utilise them as such.

The paediatric procedures unit is still on the cards but has been delayed……

We always set out that we were committed to Thinking of Oscar for the long haul, not as a quick fix, and we recognise that our contribution is tiny so far. But David’s trip this week accelerates our learning enormously. We already have some important learnings under our belt which will inform how we evaluate future investment opportunities. The paediatric procedures unit is still on the cards but has been delayed to be delivered as part of a much larger transformation project. We received this piece of news just before Christmas and initially it felt like a huge blow. Having had time to reflect though we are clear that it is absolutely the right thing for two reasons: First of all, there are now some clear plans in place for facility changes at the John Radcliffe Children’s Hospital in Oxford. If we had gone ahead with the procedures unit in its original form it would likely have been quite a temporary structure whereas it will have greater longevity when it is done as part of the bigger change programme. Secondly when the costs came in from the suppliers they were cost prohibitive – more than three times greater than expected. By executing the project as part of the wider transformation project we will benefit from economies of scale such as only one set of legal fees, one set of design work etc. The most important learning out of all of this from our point of view is that we are better informed as to the right kinds of projects to become involved in.

The paediatric procedures unit matters, and will happen, but it’s going to take a long time. The reports in the press over the Christmas period describing how hospital beds in critical care across London were full and children were needing to be taken to other hospitals proves that there needs to be a way to help children with less critical problems, quickly and in child friendly environments so that they can be treated swiftly and returned home. allowing beds to be freed up for those that need them the most. This is what the procedures unit will eventually do and we hope that it will be replicated across other hospitals and care units.

We can balance that out by making more straightforward investments in the interim such as the vein finders, which are now in use at the John Radcliffe Children’s hospital, Oxford and at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London. It will be really interesting to see what David comes back with as a result of the conference this week.

Here’s David’s first VLOG post……keep your eyes peeled for more updates.


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