An Unhealthy Wait

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20110824

On average it takes 17 years between the time a medical discovery is made and the time that it's put into wide use.

Why does it take so long? Some of the reasons include regulatory requirements, established practices, professional jealousy and a fear of failure.

A combination of these factors prevented the introduction of anaesthesia for 30 years, yet allowed disastrous new practices in intensive care units that are acknowledged as having killed hundreds of people in the 90s.

The programme will explore these barriers but also the way that patient advocacy groups and even the Department of Health are now overturning them in order to bring research more quickly to the people who need it most.Vivienne Parry talks to eminent surgeon Professor Lord Ara Darzi about his passion for innovation - and how it can sometimes go too far, creating must-have operations that aren't necessarily the best treatment for the individual patient.

The Director of the Wellcome Trust, Professor Mark Walport, meets Vivienne at the building site of the Francis Crick Centre for Innovation - where it's hoped tomorrow's innovators will be nurtured and supported.

We hear from one innovator who has produced new hoist and bed designs.

He believes to overcome the barriers in the way of your products being adopted you should start by asking hospital staff what they would like to use and taking their comments on board.

Vivienne Parry on why it takes 17 years for medical discoveries to come into wide use.