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Dr Neil Vaughan, who is based in the Medical Graphics Research Group at Thornton Science Park, has won Digital and Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Innovator of the Year Award at the annual Healthcare Education and Training (HEAT) awards, which are run by Health Education England (HEE). The awards aim to celebrate all that is very best about education and training in the NHS workforce and help foster an environment of compassionate, high-quality care.

This year’s winners and finalists came from all corners of the NHS, ranging from students and apprentices to tutors, directors and operational managers as well as doctors, nurses, scientists and specialists in a wide array of fields.

Winners were announced at the Royal College of Physicians in London, at the culmination of NHS Values Week. Values Week seeks to encourage staff to think about and share how they put the values of the NHS into practice, helping to make the NHS the very best place to work.

Since 2006 Dr Neil Vaughan has developed many innovative digital health technologies for the NHS. His research focuses on improving the training for surgeons and clinicians by developing state-of-the-art technology for training simulators. These include developing virtual reality training simulators for inserting epidural needles – allowing anaesthetists to train without using actual patients. Research project collaborations have involved over 15 NHS institutions and medical companies, including: Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch NHS Foundation Trust; and the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust (WAST). Dr Vaughan is also a Research Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. More about his research expertise can be found at:

Dr Vaughan said: “It is excellent to receive another innovation award. This demonstrates the creativity and impact of this high profile leading research, which has formed strong collaborations between NHS, the University of Chester and industry.”

Garfield Southall, Professor Emeritus in Computer Science, said: “This is wonderful news and our congratulations go to Neil for this fantastic, national recognitional for his work. Digital technologies are helping the NHS, and their patients, in so many ways and the University of Chester has a strong team leading on such developments.”

Professor Nigel John, from the Medical Graphics Team at the University’s Thornton Science Park, added: “It is great news winning the Innovator Award, which demonstrates the high potential and impact in the NHS of the VR and medical graphics projects we are developing.”

Sir David Behan, Chair, Health Education England, said: “The HEAT Awards celebrate the very best in education, training and workforce development within the NHS.

“Our winners, and all nominees, are examples to all of us and remind us that the strength of the NHS lies in its people.”

Prof Ian Cumming OBE, Chief Executive, Health Education England, said: “Our 790 entries this year were of an extremely high calibre, and choosing the winners was no simple process.

“My congratulations go to all our winners and finalists, each of whom go the extra mile to serve the public. They are all a huge credit to themselves, their organisations and to the NHS as a whole.”

More information about the awards can be found on the Health Education England website and Twitter.

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