Academic Health Science Networks’ ‘Strong Future’ Confirmed

NHS England has committed to relicense England’s 15 Academic Health Science Networks. In reaching their decision, the NHS England board considered the AHSNs’ significant impact and how they are working to become even more influential as the NHS ‘centrepiece for innovation’.

Louise Witts, Interim Chief Executive of South West Academic Health Science Network, said: “This is tremendous news and validation of our hard work over the last five years with partners across the South West. We are looking forward to the opportunity to make an even bigger difference in future to people’s experience of heath and care services.”

NHS England’s National Director of Strategy and Innovation, Ian Dodge, said that said that during their first licences the AHSNs have ‘proved their worth’ and are now regarded as an integral part of the long-term future of the NHS architecture.

The confirmation at the meeting on 21 July follows the Government announcement on 14 July, of a major role for the AHSNs in coordinating ‘Innovation Exchanges’. Funded by the Office for Life Sciences, these will help innovative new diagnostic tools, treatments and medical technologies reach patients faster. The Innovation Exchanges are one of the key outcomes of the Accelerated Access Review (AAR), an independent report commissioned by the Government and published in 2016.

Richard Deveraux-Phillips, Director of Healthcare Policy at the Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI), said: “Myself and my ABHI colleagues welcome the news that the Government has announced four new funding initiatives towards full implementation of the Accelerated Access Review (AAR). We are pleased to see that additional funding has been allocated to the AHSNs. The ABHI has regularly backed their role in supporting innovation uptake across the health system.”

The AHSNs will now work with NHS England and NHS Improvement – along with key national and local partners including the Office for Life Sciences and local Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships – to set out the detailed AHSN activities and support services for the next five years.

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