Guest Blog: Exploring the future of the mental healthcare system

A guest Biomed Israel blog from Heather Rice, Assistant Director of Research, RDaSH NHS Foundation Trust.

3rd June 2022

Thank you to Heather Rice, Assistant Director of Research, RDaSH NHS Foundation Trust, for contributing a guest blog about her experiences of the recent NHSA delegation to Tel Aviv.


Between the 6th and 13th May I was part of a delegation to BioMed Israel from Grounded Research at RDaSH (Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust), along with my colleagues Jaime Delgadillo (Director of Psychological Therapies Research) and Mike Seneviratne (our Clinical Director for Research).

Having now landed back in the UK and been reunited with my luggage, which decided to have an extended stay in Israel, I wanted to reflect on a fantastic event.

The programme was jointly produced by the Israel Foreign Trade Administration (FTA), the UK-Israel Tech Hub and the NHSA, and we were delighted to be in Tel Aviv to play our part in the NHSA delegation. The aim was to look for ways we could explore trends and breakthrough technologies with Israeli start-ups – work that is shaping the future of the healthcare system particularly in the world of Mental Health.

We in Grounded Research are active and enthusiastic members of the NHSA and we are pleased that a strong relationship between Israel and the North of England has been developed by the NHSA. As an ‘innovation nation’, with a wealth of technological invention and health technology, Israel is a natural partner.

BioMed was an important event for us – enabling us to participate in something cutting edge with potential collaborators, who are really looking to make positive partnerships.

It was obvious to me that there was an immense amount of time and effort which clearly went into planning the whole week. In particular, we were all struck as to the strength of response and interest around mental health – our specialty in Grounded Research. Mental health as a theme was a thread throughout the whole week, not only with entrepreneurs, but also with great discussions and presentations in Sheba Hospital and with Clalit.

I was very impressed at the “homework” that had been done to arrange the right meetings, make the right introductions and organise specific visits for us. We were able to follow up where we thought we had a match and might be able to do business. The advance work made that feasible with the event giving us the flexibility to pursue some things and go where the discussions were taking us.

We were also delighted to cement two exciting academic collaborations academic partners from Haifa University and Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv.

I think we are coming away with some really solid contacts and plans for the future, initiating agreements and making plans with clinical, academic and industry links. We are now building relationships with particular partners and particular tech companies where mental health is the priority. And there is the opportunity for us now to collaborate right across the North, to be in position to act quickly and efficiently for the new opportunities that will come up as Mental Health is an issue that affects everyone especially post pandemic.

To summarise, BioMed was a very positive experience, and we as a research team have made real progress in finding ways to improve the long term prospects for exciting and innovative work – work that will ultimately improve the lives of some of the disadvantaged and vulnerable patients we work with and our communities in the North of England more generally.

If I took away one thing it was the memory of the positivity, the reception we had everywhere we went, in every partner organisation we met – all of the start-ups, academic partners, provider partners, tech partners. Every last one of them were all incredibly positive and receptive and genuinely wanted to collaborate with us. I know that wouldn’t have happened without all the work done by our partners in advance, so we are very appreciative of all those efforts and hope to be able to return the favour.

Photo credit: Efi Sameach

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