Next month the West of England AHSN enters the final year of its current five-year licence, and discussions are well underway on how individual AHSNs, and the AHSN Network as a whole, can continue to support innovation and improvement across health and social care into the future.

NHS England has confirmed they are looking to license AHSNs for a second five-year period, running from April 2018.

Initial conversations indicate that the 15 AHSNs across England are likely to receive £30 million in core funding from NHS England in 2018/19. This is core funding and represents a 40% reduction of the previous core allocation, which means AHSNs and NHS England will need to work together to identify and access additional funding streams.

Patient Safety Collaboratives

Patient Safety Collaboratives (PSCs) have ring-fenced funding, currently to March 2019. The 15 PSCs across England will therefore continue their initial mandate through to next year, and these are expected to continue beyond that with closer involvement of NHS Improvement.

Scope for the second licence

In terms of what the new licence will cover, we expect there to be a requirement for closer national collaboration between the AHSNs, in particular to maximise the potential for the spread and adoption of innovation.


As before, NHS England will grant AHSN licences via an application process, which is set to run from April to June 2017. Interviews are likely to take place between July and September, and announcements are expected from October.

Developing a new business model

To take us into a new licence period, the West of England AHSN is currently developing a new and more flexible delivery model, which both builds on our work and achievements to date, while reflecting the anticipated focus of the new licence on adoption and spread, innovation and support for Sustainable Transformation Partnerships (STPs).

We are consulting with team and board members on these changes, and expect our new business model to be in place by autumn 2017, well ahead of the start of the new licence. As more detail emerges on the shape of our new AHSN delivery model, we will share this with all our member organisations. Watch this space!

Business as usual

In the meantime, work continues apace as ever here delivering the existing AHSN licence. Our board approved the 2017-8 business plan on 8 March, which you can download here.

Our key work programmes for the coming year include:

  • support for the Patient Safety Collaborative (Deteriorating Patient, Collaborating in the Community, Mental Health)
  • Evidence into Practice (including Don’t Wait to Anticoagulate, Escape Pain)
  • Digital Transformation (in particular support for Local Digital Roadmaps)
  • Commissioning Evidence Informed Care (support for Community Education Provider Networks, Clinical Evidence Fellows, Evidence & Evaluation online toolkits and workshops, and Join Dementia Research)
  • Enterprise (the Diabetes Digital Coach test bed, Design Together Live Better, Healthcare Innovation Programme and establishing a Health Innovation Exchange).

With change on the horizon for how the West of England AHSN operates and to sharpen the scope of our remit to those areas where AHSNs are best positioned to add most value, our commitment to member organisations as the health and care provider community in the West of England remains the same: enabling whole system thinking and improving patient outcomes by harnessing innovative and evidence-based solutions.

Posted on March 9, 2017

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