My AHSN connection – Dr Damian Gardner-Thorpe

Dr Damian Gardner-Thorpe is a practising GP and CEO of the digital healthcare solutions platform Digital Algorithms. One recent Digital Algorithms product is ROVA, a platform designed to deliver social prescribing and other self-care solutions through clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and local authorities. Here Damian writes about how the West of England AHSN helped Digital Algorithms in their journey.

Designing and building a completely new platform to enable social prescribing has been challenging on many levels but the AHSN has helped us make a number of valuable connections. Initially they helped us gain grants to enable us to build the ROVA platform. Creating a new, fully secure system, that allows individuals to connect with a range of volunteering opportunities, guided by GPs and link workers, simply wouldn’t have happened without that funding.

Our initial funding brought together a group of 10 stakeholders, including Bath University, who now have a specialism in Social Prescribing within their Institute of Policy Research. For us, it has led to us working with Virgin Care to deliver the Wellbeing College to help residents of Bath and North East Somerset to access courses, activities and groups to support their wellbeing.

The AHSN has now helped us gain further funding to apply the technology we’ve developed to create VolHub. This application allows individuals to move through volunteering opportunities in a way that helps them develop skills and confidence and a CV of achievements and experiences.

Throughout our journey the AHSN has provided advice, helped us to access funding and provided key introductions. As a practising GP I recognise some of the barriers, but their support and backing has helped us understand and overcome them.

The team at Digital Algorithms are available to discuss any new software applications targeting community health and social care.  Please visit their website to get in touch.

This story is a highlight from our 2017/18 annual review: joining the dots to healthcare innovation. Check out the full review here.

My AHSN connection – Elizabeth Beech

Elizabeth Beech is National Project Lead for Healthcare Acquired Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance at NHS England, and a pharmacist for Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (BANES CCG). Here Elizabeth writes about how her involvement with the AHSN and the Q community has helped her to make productive connections and improve local practice.

I’ve worked with the AHSN on a number of different projects over the past few years, but recently I’ve found being a member of the Q community really valuable. When I joined Q, I set myself the challenge of setting up a community of practice to improve the management of urinary tract infections (UTI). I tracked down some really useful advice from other Q members about the best technology to use, and now host a great network of 400+ improvers discussing UTI issues across a number of countries.

Another productive connection occurred at a national Q event where I met an experienced Q member who wanted to improve GP engagement with his local diabetic improvement programme. BANES CCG were planning a process mapping workshop as part of our programme to improve GP practice based management of hypertension in the diabetic population. This was a great opportunity to import some expert Quality Improvement (QI) facilitation skills for our local workshop and enable GP engagement – a very definite win-win for both organisations and the GP practices involved.

Facilitating the use of QI processes in GP practices has also started to change the local QI culture, with some practices using process mapping to start to improve other elements of practice activity.

The AHSN offers so much more than the Q community – I’m also a part of the Primary Care Collaborative (PCC). The AHSN pulls together organisations in the West of England and makes it easier to collaborate across healthcare systems.

The AHSN and Q Community have enabled me to develop direct, purposeful working relationships with a whole range of other people working in and around the health and care system. It’s a community that allows you to dive straight in and get to the productive discussions that lead to improvements in safe and effective patient care.

This story is a highlight from our 2017/18 annual review: joining the dots to healthcare innovation. Check out the full review here.


My AHSN connection – Abby Sabey

Abby Sabey, Senior Lecturer at the University of the West of England (UWE) and Senior Teaching Fellow for the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West (NIHR CLAHRC West), talks about her work, and how the West of England AHSN helps her to join the dots.

My work centres on teaching and training health and social care professionals in research and evidence-based practice. Working with AHSN allowed me to access key audiences, such as the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which really benefit from having access to the latest research and thinking in this area. By working with the AHSN, an organisation the commissioners already knew and trusted, the CLAHRC was able build productive relationships with commissioners.

From the work we did together, it became clear offering our training electronically would be very useful, both within our region and beyond. We developed an online training package together and also, when it became clear there was wider need, we created a train the trainer package, which we delivered to colleagues from CLAHRCs and AHSNs from across the country.

Through the AHSN I’ve also worked with GP Clinical Evidence Fellows for the past three years. We have been able to support their knowledge base as they developed into champions for evidence within the CCGs.

Working with the AHSN has helped me and my colleagues to share and spread our research and expertise so it can have the greatest positive impact, by being put into practice at the heart of clinical care and commissioning.  It has been great to work with an organisation that shares our drive to use sound evidence to improve services.

This story is a highlight from our 2017/18 annual review: joining the dots to healthcare innovation. Check out the full review here.

My AHSN connection – Dr Seema Srivastava MBE

Seema was awarded an MBE in the 2018 Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for her services to the NHS in Patient Safety. Here Seema writes about her involvement with the West of England AHSN right from the start, and how we help facilitate the work she’s involved in.

I’ve been involved with the AHSN right from the start; I was already involved in regional Quality Improvement (QI) work. One of the things I remember, right back at the early meetings in 2012 was the range of people I got to meet. I was particularly interested in meeting innovators and people using technology to tackle some of the issues we were facing.

For us at North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT), the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) was high on the priority list right from the start. Working with the AHSN meant we could work alongside others, at University Hospitals Bristol and then in the community. We learn from each other’s successes and failures and take a standardised approach that has rolled out across the region and is now being implemented across the country.

One of the things I value most in working with the AHSN is the way they remove barriers and get people working together. The face to face meetings are both productive and enjoyable. The team there are also great at facilitating remote teams and keeping complex projects with dispersed teams on track.

It’s this ability to bring people together and focus their efforts that has allowed us to progress NEWS with the pace and scale that we have. I’m also working with them on approaches to Learning from Deaths and the ReSPECT advanced care planning tool. These are sensitive areas but with the support of the AHSN we are gaining wide-ranging and senior support and buy-in that will really help the development and adoption of these projects.

This story is a highlight from our 2017/18 annual review: joining the dots to healthcare innovation. Check out the full review here.