As many of you will be aware, MedCity exists to promote and grow the world-leading life sciences cluster of The Golden Triangle - encouraging and promoting life sciences investment, entrepreneurship, and industry across Cambridge, London and Oxford. We offer a front door service to the region by working closely with our partners: Cambridge Health Partners, King’s Health Partners, Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre, the Mayor of London, Oxford Academic Health Science Centre and UCL Partners.

Our new blog series shines a spotlight on each of our partners and provides readers with a snapshot of their priorities. First up is Prof Sir Robert Lechler, Executive Director at King’s Health Partners:

“As an Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC), our primary purpose is innovation. Innovation to translate cutting-edge research into patient care as quickly as possible; to deliver improved outcomes for our patients and service users; to make sure our workforce have the skills they need to deliver the best possible care; to connect mental and physical health; and to improve the health and wellbeing of our local population.

It is important that we do not just innovate, but that we showcase this innovation, providing inspiration for others and helping facilitate the spread and adoption of best practice. The 22 examples set out in our new publication, ‘Innovation Impact Stories’, cover a wide variety of clinical academic collaborations, from the introduction of new patient pathways for heart failure, autism spectrum disorder and hip fractures, to the pioneering use of wearable technology to treat children and young people with complex neurodevelopmental disorders and to prevent people developing type 2 diabetes.

For the purposes of this piece however, I will expand on just two of the book’s innovations in more detail.

Last year, our AHSC carried out the first robotic kidney transplants in the UK. We also carry out robotic partial kidney removals which have several benefits for patients over keyhole and open surgery, including less time in hospital, faster recovery times, less pain and scarring. During a robotic procedure, surgeons control the robot’s ‘arms’ from a console as they look down microscopes on the end of each arm to see inside four keyhole incisions.

They have a 3D HD view while they operate, while the robot arms eliminate tremor and provide an increased range of movement, which leads to more precision and quicker stitching. Using the robot also reduces the time that blood flow to the kidney is stopped while a tumour is removed, because this key part of the procedure can be done in less time. Consequently there is less damage to the kidney, keeping it functioning better after the operation, and more of the kidney can be preserved.

Our IMPARTS programme (Integrating Mental and Physical health: Research, Training and Services) is a very different but equally important way in which we use innovation to improve patient care. IMPARTS is designed to support clinical teams to provide timely, tailored and evidence-based care to people with dual physical and mental health needs.

Underpinned by the latest research and extensive training for clinical teams, IMPARTS is currently running in 45 outpatient services across both Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College Hospital sites. In these physical healthcare settings, it involves asking patients to complete a screening questionnaire on a tablet device while waiting for their appointment. The questionnaire is designed to reveal any psychological issues, such as depression or anxiety, so that appropriate support and treatment can be arranged. The initiative is also being extended into services at South London and Maudsley, to help improve the physical healthcare of people with severe mental illness.

These examples are of course just a snapshot of the innovation that takes places across our AHSC on a daily basis. You can find out more about the innovative work we do by visiting

Prof Sir Robert Lechler is Executive Director of King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences and a member of the MedCity Management Board.

You can read ‘Innovation Impact Stories’ on the King’s Health Partners website.

King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering collaboration between King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts.