The time is now

24th March 2021 - By Jody Nichols

So here it is, my very first blog, and I am proud to say that it is also the start of an exciting development for the AHSN NENC.

The time is now….is my overwhelming feeling! The time is now to embark on what could be a ‘game changer’ for innovations and innovators in the North East and North Cumbria. For far too long I have heard, witnessed, and experienced stories of the multiple challenges and obstacles that need to be overcome to gain traction within the NHS. Access to the NHS has long been perceived as being a complex process, and for some it has almost become the Golden Chalice. As these difficulties continue, innovators choose other markets by moving to Europe, Asia, or America, whilst those that continue to stay may struggle with red tape, blind alleys, complex frameworks, spiralling costs and unclear routes to market. How can the AHSN NENC change this?


How about the idea of moving away from an organisational approach to more of a regional one to support innovators?

What if we were able to create an infrastructure that allows innovators to access the NHS through a single front door?! An infrastructure that allows regional organisations designed to help innovators to work in a collaborative manor. Complex right…. you are not kidding!! Well, that has been my journey of the last 12 months… The AHSN NENC is creating a single front door which gives innovators the means to accelerate evaluation development of an innovation that meets a regional need/priority.


During the last 12 months, I have engaged with over 75 people from over key regional 60 organisations including NHS facing structures, commissioners from both the NHS and local authority, academics, industry support organisations and businesses, all of whom have been nothing but supportive and keen to engage.


The North East Local Enterprise Partnership recognises this project as a strategically significant for the region as it provides the opportunity to bring together stakeholders and infrastructure in a systematic and seamless way, providing the North East and North Cumbria with a Unique Selling Proposition.


The next part of my journey involves engaging with our stakeholders in regional discovery and focus group sessions, these will help validate the issues identified and then embark on co-designing the system/ solution to support both our innovators and stakeholders.


WATCH THIS SPACE…. exciting times ahead.


What have I learnt on my journey so far?:

  • That the NENC region has some of the most amazing companies and organisations that are keen to improve the NHS and therefore, the care it can deliver to its patients, using their innovative solutions.
  • That the NENC also has some of the most well-developed infrastructure available to help innovators into NHS on their journey.
  • Innovators have highlighted that they are frustrated by the lack of a clear route into the NHS.
  • Levelling up and Brexit have provided the perfect opportunity for this infrastructure to work.
  • COVID 19 has changed the way the NHS works, bringing the innovation agenda to the forefront of care.
  • The NHS innovates every day, capturing that and developing those unmet needs and innovations often get stuck due to a lack of funding.

You can find out more about Jody on our Meet the Team page.