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A tremendous 2018-19

As we come to the end of an exciting year of continued innovation and improvement, our Chief Executive, Natasha Swinscoe has been reflecting in our annual report on how far we have come and looks to what lies ahead.

It’s been a tremendous year for the West of England Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), and it’s time to take a look back at of some of our achievements, delivered in close partnership with colleagues from across the NHS, industry, universities and research bodies in our region, as well as patients and the public.

The challenge we’ve been set by our national commissioners (NHS England, NHS Improvement and the government’s Office for Life Sciences) shouldn’t be underestimated. England’s 15 AHSNs have been collectively tasked to drive healthcare innovation across the NHS at a pace and scale unheard of in any other health system in the world.

This means one of our key roles is to drive the regional ‘import and export’ of proven innovation around the country: importing great ideas into our region and exporting our own solutions out to others.

Our track record is pretty impressive. The work we’ve been doing here in the West Country has caught the attention of the rest of the country. Many of our home-grown success stories are now being spread nationally – testament to the way we’ve always collaborated as a Network.

For instance, our work through our Patient Safety Collaborative to develop and support the Emergency Department Checklist and the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) is now being adopted by NHS organisations as ‘business as normal’ and we’re delighted to be in a position to share our learning with others.

In the last year, PReCePT, our regional programme to increase use of magnesium sulphate to help prevent cerebral palsy in very premature babies has gone national and is being spread by the AHSN Network to every maternity unit in the country. In just 12 months an estimated 13 cases of cerebral palsy have been avoided by PReCePT, representing a significant £10.4 million savings in lifetime health and social care costs, let alone the potential impact on the children and their families. From a small QI project in St Michael’s Hospital to a national programme, we are succeeding in changing lives.

Similarly we were one of the original AHSNs involved in the Emergency Laparotomy Collaborative, improving standards of care for patients undergoing emergency laparotomy surgery. This is now another AHSN Network national programme, which in the last year has seen a 552% increase in patients benefitting from our collective approach to support hospital trusts.

And we have been successfully ‘importing’ innovations into the West from the other AHSNs, as well as national programmes such as the NHS Innovation Accelerator and Innovation and Technology Payment (ITP). There’s ESCAPE-pain, the rehabilitation programme for people with osteoarthritis, which we’ve helped to establish in 11 new sites in our region, while nearly 7,000 patients in the West are benefitting from increased support with their prescriptions through our rollout of the national Transfer of Care Around Medicines programme.

We can’t do any of this alone, so we focus on building strong relationships and working with our regional health and care providers to identify needs on the ground and to match these with proven solutions. And so I have to say huge thanks to all our colleagues in our member organisations for embracing these opportunities we’ve been given as an AHSN.

In the coming year our work to identify, develop and test improvements and innovations regionally with the potential for national spread will step up a gear, particularly through the launch of our new Innovation Exchange and our recent challenges to both industry and the healthcare community.

Based on this track record to date, I am incredibly excited about what’s in store and I hope you will join us on our continued mission to transform lives through healthcare innovation.

Read more in our Innovating Together magazine – a look back at the work of the West of England AHSN in the year 2018-19, and a look ahead to some the work we have planned. Download it here as a PDF or read it below via Issuu