AHSN NENC supports regional COVID response

A new report has showcased the key supporting role of the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC) in speeding up innovations reaching the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The impact of COVID-19 has challenged and stretched the regional health and social care system like never before, but the resilience and adaptability of the health economy in the North East and North Cumbria has been outstanding.

A new report – ‘The role of the AHSN NENC in supporting the COVID-19 pandemic’ – highlights some of the work the AHSN NENC has supported in response to the pandemic over the last year. This ranges from sourcing PPE to undertaking rapid insight activities, through to supporting the adoption of digital technology and moving services and events online to support colleagues in the dissemination of knowledge.

Dr Nicola Hutchinson, AHSN NENC Chief Executive Officer, said: “After what has been one of the toughest years in our careers, I’ve continued to be blown away by the strength, resilience and kindness displayed by healthcare professionals. It has been a privilege to be able to support NHS, university and industry partners across the region who have all stepped up in the fight against COVID-19. The scale, breadth and speed at which innovations have been developed is astounding and it is humbling for the whole AHSN NENC team to have played a supporting role in the regional and national response.”

The report features 13 short case studies highlighting the AHSN NENC’s collaborative work with partners to support the development, evaluation and implementation of wide range of innovative COVID-19 solutions which have brought significant benefits to patients and regional economy.

This includes the AHSN NENC-supported work with Tees, Esk and Wear Valley (TEWV) NHS Foundation Trust to introduce the use of the KardiaMobile 6L ECG device for the Trust’s staff to use on patients within the community. This ensures patients can be remotely monitored without going to a hospital setting which reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission for both parties.

The solution has also resulted in service efficiencies in relation to time saved and potential cost savings.

Dr M Santhana Krishnan, Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry/ Senior Clinical Director at TEWV, said:

“The AHSN NENC were instrumental in the procurement and roll out of the KardiaMobile 6L Alivecor device within our Trust. This is an excellent digital solution which has been rapidly deployed at pace and scale providing our community teams with a device which reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission. It is promising to see this has been extended to further Trusts in our region so that NHS staff and patients can benefit from this unique technology and also the innovative pathway which was developed at TEWV.”

The AHSN NENC also worked closely with Draeger Safety UK Ltd to strengthen Dräger’s pitch to Government to supply the NHS with respiratory protection masks. Dräger was successful in winning a multi-million pound contract and have set up a manufacturing facility near Gateshead creating 40 jobs.

In addition, South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was able to produce over 600 pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect its staff at the start of the pandemic when PPE was not readily available to purchase through usual procurement routes. The team used equipment previously purchased through funds provided by the AHSN NENC innovation agreement to repurpose their CNC machine and 3D printer to produce much needed PPE.

Other case studies showcased in the report, include:

  • Rapid Insights into Digital GP Solutions
  • Rapid Insights into Digital and Technology Solutions in Care Homes
  • Rapid Insights Gained from Health Care Professionals
  • ESCAPE-Pain Remote Training Collaboration
  • Virtual Events: How the AHSN NENC Continue to Engage with Healthcare Professionals
  • CDRC: A Key Resource for Primary Care
  • AHSN NENC COVID-19 Supplier Tracker
  • Regional Data Driven Models Could be Vital to Easing of Lockdown
  • Learning from the Pandemic Across Maternity and Neonatal Services
  • Ensuring Safer Tracheostomy Care

Read The role of the AHSN NENC in supporting the COVID-19 pandemic.