With its clear emphasis on research and innovation for patient benefit, the NHS Long Term Plan published on Monday 7 January is warmly welcomed by the West of England Academic Health Science Network (AHSN).

Heralded as the blueprint to make the NHS fit for the future, the Long Term Plan highlights investment in the latest technology, digital health and cutting edge treatments, coupled with early detection and a renewed focus on prevention to stop an estimated 85,000 premature deaths every year.

It also lays out plans for a more integrated, person-centred service, where health bodies come together across primary, community and mental health to provide better, joined up care in partnership with local government.

Simpler innovation system

The role of the West of England AHSN and the 14 other AHSNs in spreading proven healthcare innovations is given a high profile in the Long Term Plan which announces the introduction of a simpler, clearer innovation system with key role for AHSNs.

This will help to speed up the pipeline for developing innovations in the NHS, so that proven and affordable innovations get to patients faster. Supported by the Innovation Exchange already being developed in the West of England and in all other AHSNs, this will include a new advisory service for healthcare innovators.

This focus on supporting innovators will also continue through successful initiatives such as the Clinical Entrepreneurs programme and the NHS Innovation Accelerator, delivered in partnership with the AHSNs. Through a major expansion, these will include those seeking to drive quality improvement through non-commercial models.

The Long Term Plan also describes how AHSNs will work more closely with other regional support, such as RightCare and Getting It Right First Time to ensure adoption of innovation and service improvement are addressed in tandem.

Managing Director of West of England AHSN, Natasha Swinscoe commented; “It’s never been more important for the NHS to be harnessing the enormous potential for innovation to help transform health services and improve health. The NHS Long Term Plan reinforces this and emphasises the key role of the AHSNs to support our member organisations in embracing this agenda. In the West of England we are working with our member organisations to further develop the Innovation Exchange and our local Innovation Hubs, which will be key resources for innovators and clinicians and for maintaining a healthy life sciences sector.”

Chair of the AHSN Network, Dr Séamus O’Neill said: “The AHSNs are extremely pleased to see that innovation is a key thread running through the NHS Long Term Plan, and are encouraged to see a real sense of urgency in simplifying the innovation pipeline, with the AHSN Network at the heart of this.

Our shared ambition with the NHS is to ensure high quality, evidence-based solutions are put to work for patient benefit as quickly as possible enabling prevention of ill-health, earlier diagnosis, more effective treatments, better outcomes and faster recovery.

The Long Term Plan places a strong emphasis on real world testing for new innovations, which the AHSNs have long encouraged. We look forward to supporting the NHS infrastructure for real world testing, particularly through the expansion of the NHS England ‘Test Beds’ into regional Test Bed Clusters.”

Next steps

Following today’s publication of the NHS Long Term Plan, local plans will be developed across the system. We’ll be working with our local Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) and Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), to develop and implement strategies that support the spread and adoption of proven innovation for patient benefit.

Innovation examples

For examples of the range of benefits accruing to companies by working with the AHSNs to access the expertise and opportunities within the NHS, take a look at the recent AHSN Network publication on our work to support economic growth.

And for examples of proven innovations supported and spread by AHSNs, please visit atlas.ahsnnetwork.com.

 Read the full NHS Long Term Plan here.


Posted on January 9, 2019

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