As well as looking back at the highlights of 2015-16, our annual report also looks ahead to some of the big projects our member organisations will be delivering together in the coming year…

Sustainability and Transformation Plans

The West of England AHSN will be actively supporting the development and implementation of the three Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP) in our area, for our three health communities or STP ‘footprints’: Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire; Gloucestershire; and Bath & North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire.


The aim will be to develop a new approach to help ensure that health and care services are planned by place rather than around individual institutions.

Diabetes Digital Coach

The West of England has been selected as an innovation test bed to help people with diabetes self-manage their condition using remote monitoring and coaching technology. It is one of seven test beds announced by the NHS as part of a major new drive to modernise the delivery of healthcare.

The Diabetes Digital Coach programme is led by the West of England AHSN, as part of a consortium with a range of technology and evaluation partners. It will bring together digital health self-management tools (such as wearable sensors to apps that monitor insulin levels) with the latest developments in connecting monitoring devices – the Internet of Things (IoT).

Members of the Diabetes Digital Coach team at the NHS Test Bed launch in London
Members of the Diabetes Digital Coach team at the NHS Test Bed launch in London

The programme will enable people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes to ‘do the right thing at the right time’ to self-manage their condition, and will encourage more timely and appropriate interventions from peers, healthcare professionals, carers and social networks.

Over two years, the project will recruit 12,000 people with diabetes across the West of England to use and help evaluate a range of technologies.

The Diabetes Digital Coach test bed marks a new way of working at scale in partnership with the business sector, combining innovation from a wide range of sources – from large corporates to SMEs.

The Primary Care Collaborative

In May 2016 we launched our first Primary Care Collaborative. Up to 20 primary care practices have been identified from across our seven clinical commissioning groups (CCG) to form the first cohort. This collaborative will form part of the wider West of England Patient Safety Collaborative.

Members of our new Primary Care Collaborative at the launch event in May 2016
Members of our new Primary Care Collaborative at the launch event in May 2016

The initial aim of the Primary Care Collaborative will be to promote a safety culture in the primary care setting through the use of incident reporting, leading to better outcomes for patients. It will also increase awareness amongst practice teams of the patient safety agenda, while promoting an open and honest culture.

Additional benefits for practices will include improving preparation for Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections and the revalidation and appraisal process for all staff.

Each practice will complete a patient safety culture survey and we will support practices with tools and training in Quality Improvement (QI) methodology, enabling the identification of opportunities to improve patient safety. Practices in the collaborative will come together at four learning and sharing events during 2016/17.

Alison Moon, Transformation & Quality Director for Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), says:

“It is really positive working with the AHSN on the primary care programme. There’s a combination of energised joint working, a structured improvement approach and the sharing of best practice and experiences, which gives us a really good chance of achieving our shared objectives on patient safety.”

Design Together, Live Better – in the cloud!

We are taking our Design Together, Live Better initiative to the next level, continuing to connect citizens (be they patients, carers, family or friends) with innovators to co-create new healthcare solutions based on real needs and test new concepts and developments.

design together live better

We are building a Citizen Innovation Platform where members of the public can sign up to become part of our Design Together, Live Better online community. This will directly connect citizens interested in creating and being involved in the design of new, innovative healthcare products with innovators of new technologies and solutions.

By joining our community, citizens will be able to:

  • Co-create and co-design new health solutions
  • Beta-test innovative products in development
  • Help shape new concepts and developments
  • Tell us about their needs and what solutions they want to see developed.

We will also be running challenges where we will ask people to identify theme areas based on people’s needs and then throw down the mantel to citizens and innovators to come up with new solutions using co-development and co-design processes.

Lars Sundstrom, Director of Enterprise for the West of England AHSN, says: “We need to make better use of people’s insights into their own conditions and lives; they are the experts in what would make life easier and, more specifically, what’s missing and what could be created to help.

“Our new innovation platform will do exactly that by putting people in touch with each other, to co-design and co-create the next generation of innovative healthcare products so that they precisely match currently unmet needs. I am really excited about this – it could be a real game changer!”

Quality Improvement for digital best practice

The West of England already benefits from the Connecting Care Partnership, a national digital exemplar programme connecting data across and between 17 organisations, spanning three health and social care communities.

In 2016/17 the West of England AHSN will support the partnership to spread the Connecting Care shared care record across the region, using Quality Improvement (QI) techniques and methodology. This will also support the development of our Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) and Local Digital Roadmaps (LDRs).

Continuous improvement cycles will support greater alignment of the benefits offered by the Connecting Care shared care record to specific care settings and pathways, and will strengthen the case for digital change in line with national targets. The knowledge shared will provide a best practice toolkit for digital transformation, giving a lasting legacy for technology enabled change across the region.

Andy Kinnear, Connecting Care Programme Director at the South, Central and West Commissioning Support Unit, says: “Connecting Care is delivering the technology platform for a shared care record for health and care professionals across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. To truly realise the benefits from this investment, the Connecting Care and West of England AHSN teams are using QI techniques to help our care professionals support our public and patients in the best way possible.

“This is another great example of a partnership approach.”

Genomic Medicine Centre

Patients in the West of England are set to benefit from a new NHS Genomic Medicine Centre based in Bristol.

A partnership made up of NHS provider organisations, universities, the West of England AHSN, NHS commissioners and patient organisations has been designated the West of England NHS Genomic Medicine Centre (WEGMC).

The centre is part of the three-year project launched by the Prime Minister, to transform diagnosis and treatment for patients with cancer and rare diseases.

This involves collecting and decoding 100,000 human genomes – complete sets of people’s genes – that will enable scientists and doctors to understand more about specific conditions. It could allow personalisation of drugs and other treatments to specific genetic variants.

Clinicians from the hospitals involved will recruit potentially eligible patients. Then patients choosing to be involved will take part in a test which will then be processed in a lab at Southmead Hospital, before being sent nationally for sequencing.

Some of the patients involved could benefit from a quicker conclusive diagnosis for a rare and inherited disease or cancer because treatment may be targeted at a particular genetic change.

Adele Webb, who has been involved in the patient and carer interviews to help plan the new service, says: “I am delighted the West of England has been successful in its application to join the 100,000 Genome Project. This is our chance to contribute to an initiative that has the potential to impact not only on the health of people across the world, but also for future generations of our families.

“Since I have personal experience of a rare disorder within my family, I am particularly heartened to know that we can contribute towards the research that is so vital.”

Community Education Providers Network

A project was launched in April 2016 to develop Community Education Provider Networks (CEPNs) across the South West.

CEPNs are an exciting new development intended to support healthcare provider communities through the consolidation and skilling up of their workforces.

The potential of community based networks to identify workforce and training needs and to respond and deliver on these is recognised by Health Education England (HEE) as an important step in sustaining and transforming primary and community care.

In the South West, the establishment of these networks is being driven by a joint Health Education England and West of England and South West AHSN collaboration, and in the longer term it is intended these networks become self-supporting and directing.

The two AHSNs will continue to work closely with people in primary and community care to develop a series of networks over the next two years.

Natasha Swinscoe, Chief Operating Officer for the West of England AHSN, says: “General practice and primary care are the bed rock of the NHS. We will be supporting our colleagues in the CEPN network to think about and try out new and innovative models of care, which will support the new workforce we need in our primary care teams.”

Annual Report 2015-16 – read more online

Download the full report as a PDF