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The future of Academic Health Science Networks

In April 2017 the West of England AHSN enters the final year of its current five-year licence. So what happens next?

NHS England has indicated that AHSNs will have a second licence running from April 2018. Discussions are well underway on how the AHSN Network can continue to support innovation and improvement across health and social care into the future.

At a national level, the Accelerated Access Review (AAR), which proposes reforms to the UK health and care system and how it works with industry to address the barriers to adopting innovation, has set out many potential roles for AHSNs.

The AAR offers practical system changes to benefit patients, clinicians, the NHS and the wider UK economy. The report says streamlined processes could bring forward patient access to drugs by up to four years and patients will benefit from quicker access to medical technologies too. It also recommends a simpler process for digital technologies which are often developed by smaller companies, such as healthcare apps for managing long-term conditions.

Elements that will be supported by the AHSN Network include creating an improved pathway for getting new medical technologies, diagnostics and digital products into the NHS at pace. This builds on the successful NHS Innovation Accelerator, which in its first year has supported the adoption of innovation into 388 NHS organisations and helped secure more than £17m investment to help scale health innovation.

In addition NHS England is also keen to explore how the AHSN Network can support our local Sustainable Transformation Partnerships (STPs) as these are developed.

Coordinated by the AHSNs, the 15 Patient Safety Collaboratives across England will continue their initial mandate until March 2019, and these are expected to continue beyond that, with closer involvement of NHS Improvement.

Deborah Evans, Managing Director of the West of England AHSN, says: “Over the last four years we have achieved a great deal to support innovation and improved processes of care in the West of England.  It has been fascinating to support citizen empowerment in their own care, to work alongside clinicians and companies to stimulate innovation, and to have achieved tangible improvements in patient safety and quality of care.

“We have learnt a great deal which we can apply over a second licence period to support adoption and spread of innovation on a more ambitious scale. The NHS needs to stimulate innovation and be as good as it possibly can be in terms of adoption and spread of the best products and processes.”

Posted on January 9, 2017

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