South West AHSN Grows Healthcare Innovation in the Region

The NHS in the region has seen increased investment, innovation and improved outcomes for patients thanks to the work of the South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN).

The SW AHSN is part of a network of fifteen AHSNs in England. Its mission is to improve people’s health and patient experience by supporting the development and take-up of new innovations and quality improvement in health and care.

Its latest annual review, just published, reveals the significant impact the SW AHSN has had in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon and Somerset:

  • Helped bring £13.5 million additional funding into the South West
  • Organised events and training attended by over 2,000 people
  • Worked with more than 300 companies to explore new innovations in health and care

Half of organisations questioned in an annual survey of health and care professionals said the SW AHSN helped them achieve their goals and three-quarters would recommend working with them.

Louise Witts, Interim Chief Executive of the South West Academic Health Science Forum, said:

‘We are very proud of our record bringing together people from industry, life sciences, local government and universities to work with the NHS to nurture innovation and share new ideas.

‘We also work in partnership with the world-class universities on our doorstep on the analysis and evaluation of new models of care, and our work on patient safety and quality improvement is gaining an enviable reputation.’

The annual review is available at (select ‘reports’ from the ‘resources’ tab; direct link: and covers the year from April 2016 to March 2017. It includes many success stories supporting partners including:

  • The award-winning Zero Suicide Collaborative aiming to eliminate suicide in the South West.
  • An epilepsy self-monitor developed in Cornwall by Plymouth University, which has been accepted on the national NHS Innovation Accelerator programme.
  • Hollywell Housing Trust, a social enterprise that offers bespoke housing services for vulnerable people in Devon and Cornwall, which became the first recipient of investment from the SW AHSN’s ground-breaking £5m Health and Wellbeing Challenge Fund.
  • Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group’s trial of EMIS, a way to share patient information held electronically by GPs with clinicians in urgent and emergency care.
  • SW AHSN funding for the stroke therapy team at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust to launch a website to help people find the best apps to recover from a stroke or brain injury.
  • Life QI, a health and social care quality improvement launched in 2015 with seeDATA, which allows people to share their own projects and learn from others, and now has over 4,200 users nationally, sharing more than 1.600 projects.
  • The Q Community to improve health and care in the South West through quality improvement, which now has 135 people signed up in the region.

Alastair Riddlell, SW AHSN’s Chair, said:

‘With increasing emphasis, we are aligning our work with the strategic priorities of Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships. It’s vital we play our part in bringing health and social care partners closer together, and help maintain a sustainable primary care workforce in a region where recruitment is historically difficult.’

Louise Witts added:

‘This annual review comes at the end of our first five-year licence from NHS England. We expect in future we will play a key role in delivering ‘Innovation Exchanges’, designed to improve access for NHS patients to innovative medicines, medical technologies, diagnostics and digital products, further improving efficiency and patient outcomes.’

The SW AHSN is a membership organisation and welcomes involvement from organisations across the health, care, industry and VCSE (voluntary, community and social enterprise) sectors, who provide health and care services. For more information or to discuss how to get involved, email or call 01392 247903.

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