We are delighted to report that the AHSN Network’s national initiatives have benefitted more than 2.3 million patients and generated more than £1.8 billion of investment for the UK economy since 2018 – our second five-year licence period.

Celebrating 10 years since Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) were first created by NHS England, we are proud to release our Impact Report for 2022-23 which outlines how, together with England’s fifteen AHSNs, we have transformed the way the NHS identifies, adopts and spreads promising innovations, to improve health outcomes and support economic growth.

The report summarises the collective work undertaken by the AHSNs through partnership working, delivering national programmes and initiatives, improving patient safety, supporting innovators and addressing key cross-cutting priorities.

Partnering for success

The AHSNs are uniquely placed to collaborate across all sectors with a role in health innovation, transformation, and improvement. Examples of how we work together strategically with partners from across the health and care system, industry and academia to maximise the impact we have for our stakeholders, are included in the report.

National programmes

Our report also features innovation programmes commissioned by NHS England over the last year, which have benefitted more than 530,000 patients. This includes work to improve ADHD diagnosis in children and young people; accelerate access to treatment for young people with eating disorders; improve asthma pathways; reduce overprescribing of medications; transform wound care; and support the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

A young person who benefited from the use of First Episode Rapid Early Intervention for Eating Disorders (FREED), supported by the AHSNs, said: “I nearly dropped out of university last year, when my anorexia was at its most aggressive. FREED’s rapid intervention prevented this. I am slowly regaining my energy levels that anorexia drained from me. I can only thank FREED for quite literally saving my life.”

Improving safety

AHSNs host the 15 Patient Safety Collaboratives (PSCs) across England. Commissioned by NHS England, the PSCs identify and deploy safer care initiatives throughout the health and care system, through the delivery of the National Patient Safety Improvement Programme. The PSCs focus over the last year has been managing deterioration in care homes; maternal and neonatal safety; safer tracheostomy care; medicines safety; mental health safety; and system safety.

Work to support managing deterioration in 11,621 care homes has prevented up to 57,000 emergency admissions. Improving tracheostomy care has resulted in an estimated saving of £1.92m per hospital per year in England.

Supporting innovators

AHSNs are also commissioned by the Government’s Office for Life Sciences (OLS) to support health innovators to discover, develop and deploy innovations that answer NHS and social care challenges and priorities. In 2022-23, the AHSNs supported 2,831 companies with innovative health and care products and solutions. As a result of this support, £428 million of investment has been leveraged, and more than 1,329 jobs have been either created or protected.

Cross cutting priorities

Several themes underpin the AHSN Network’s work programmes and priorities, which are presented in the report. These include equality, diversity and inclusion; patient and public involvement, environmental sustainability, digital solutions and artificial intelligence; health inequalities; workforce; and improving patient safety.

Gary Ford, Chair of the AHSN Network and Chief Executive of Oxford AHSN said: “In our first decade we have improved health outcomes and supported economic growth, both individually and working together as the AHSN Network.

“As we begin our third five-year licence and rename as Health Innovation Networks, I would like to thank all my colleagues from across the Network and partner organisations for their dedication and support. The challenges facing the NHS can only be solved by harnessing the potential that research and innovation offers to provide better individualised person-centred care and maximise the skills and talents of our workforce.

“We will continue to champion and support scale-up of the best healthcare innovations to improve health, support the NHS and achieve economic growth.”

Read the AHSN Network 2022-23 Impact Report here.

  • Collaborating to improve access and equity of care for sickle cell sufferers

    Harriet Smith is the Health Innovation Network's MTFM National Lead for Spectra Optia. In this blog, she outlines the collaborative efforts to improve the support available to people with sickle cell disease, and tackle long standing inequalities. Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a serious and lifelong health condition. People with SCD produce unusually shaped red [...]

  • Until tackling health inequalities becomes business as usual, innovation is our best chance of equity

    Dr Stuart Monk, National Programme Director for the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) Programmes at the Health Innovation Network, talks about the pivotal role of innovation tackling healthcare inequalities in the NHS. At the Royal Society of Medicine’s Tackling Inequalities conference it was clear from the passion in the room that great progress has been made [...]

  • Where health innovation is concerned, 15 approaches are better than one

    Dr Phil Jennings, Vice Chair of the Health Innovation Network and Chief Executive of Health Innovation North West Coast, discusses why the Network’s collective relicensing gives innovation a better chance of success. In any one day in England, 1.2 million people attend a GP appointment, over a quarter of a million people have an outpatient [...]