AHSN Network Impact Report published

The AHSN Network has benefitted more than 489,000 patients and generated £462 million inward investment for UK economy between April 2020-end of March 2021 new report reveals.

The AHSN Network, has released its Impact Report for 2020-2021.

The report highlights outstanding impacts achieved by AHSNs over the last year and evidences how as a collective we are driving adoption and spread in healthcare innovation, transforming patient outcomes, saving the NHS money, generating economic growth and attracting millions of pounds of investment for the country’s economy.


Dr Nicola Hutchinson, Chief Executive Officer at the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria, said: “AHSNs were set up with the intention of improving patient care and supporting economic growth through innovation within health and social care. This report clearly demonstrates the impact we are having regionally and nationally in both of these areas. As a Network, we had to quickly adapt our priorities in response to the pandemic to ensure we were providing support to the health and care system in areas where they needed it most.

“Over the last year solutions to some of the most pressing health challenges of our time have been developed, adopted and spread at speed, bringing innovations to patients faster than ever before. Collaboration and partnership working has never been more critical and this report showcases the economic benefits that come from a joined up approach across industry, NHS and academia. All these elements will be crucial as the system recovers from the pandemic and we look forward to building on this through our work programmes and priorities going forward.”


The AHSN Network response to COVID-19

The report details how in March 2020, the AHSNs quickly realigned activities and resource to support the health and care system’s response to coronavirus.

We quickly refocused our existing work maximising on areas that would provide significant benefits, such as sharing our knowledge of proven technologies and expertise in co-ordinated national spread initiatives.

We also supported new priorities, taking on new programmes of work including a leading role in embedding online consultations in primary care practices; supporting the uptake of remote monitoring and oximetry approaches; dissemination of resources for intensive care units; and supporting the uptake of electronic repeat dispensing to support the primary care workforce.

Impacts include:

  • 92% of trusts implementing all three key interventions of our tracheostomy programme
  • 100% of CCGs in England had launched the national COVID Oximetry @home model by December 2020
  • 96% of acute trusts set up virtual ward pathways by March 2021
  • More than 21,000 views of collaborative webinars with the RCGP on coronavirus themes for primary care


National adoption and spread programmes

Commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement, the AHSNs delivered seven programmes, developed regionally and selected for national adoption and spread during 2018-20. Since moving on to new programmes of national focus, AHSNs have continued work to ensure partners are equipped to sustain these programmes where they are a priority for regional health and care systems.

In 20-21, we launched our new national adoption and spread programmes focusing on major NHS priorities around mental health and cardiovascular disease. Even within this challenging year, these initiatives have added value and delivered impact for the health and care system on a national scale.

In 20-21, 258,000+ patients benefitted from our national adoption and spread programmes.


Improving safety

AHSNs host the 15 Patient Safety Collaboratives (PSCs) across England. Commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement, the PSCs are vital delivery agents of the national patient safety improvement programmes.

The PSCs realigned resources at the start of the pandemic to support the system to respond in the most critical areas for patient safety, including identifying and managing people at risk of deterioration because of coronavirus and use of early warning and communication tools; and implementing a safer tracheostomy care programme to help hospital staff care for patients with a tracheostomy.

As well as impacts detailed in the earlier AHSN Network response to COVID-19 section, other impacts include:

  • 3% of all acute and ambulance trusts use the National Early Warning Score (NEWS2)
  • 250,000+ views of 14 training films for staff working in care homes who care for residents at risk of deterioration


Supporting innovators and driving economic growth

Funded by the Government’s Office for Life Sciences (OLS), our Innovation Exchange is a co-ordinated approach to identify and spread innovations that directly respond to NHS needs, and have the potential to transform the lives of patients. The Innovation Exchange activity supports companies at every stage of

their development to encourage economic growth on a regional and national scale.

Impacts include: 

  • £462m investment leveraged
  • 700 jobs created and 763 jobs safeguarded


Fast-tracking roll-out of latest technologies

The AHSN Network is a key member of the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC), an NHS England and NHS Improvement initiative to remove barriers and accelerate the introduction of groundbreaking new treatments and diagnostics to transform care. We support NHS adoption of transformative technologies and medicines through the AAC’s Rapid Uptake Products (RUP) programmes and MedTech Funding Mandate (MTFM), and until April 2021 through the Innovation and Technology Payment (ITP) programme.


Gary Ford, Chair of the AHSN Network and Chief Executive of Oxford AHSN said: “This report demonstrates that as a Network we drive forward results in the most relevant areas to make a real difference for patients and service users, as well as healthcare professionals, innovators and NHS organisations. We use our unique position working across all sectors relevant to health and care and our embedded relationships as a catalyst for the greatest impacts, and this year is a demonstration of how effective that can be.”


Read the full 20-21 AHSN Network Impact Report.