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AHSNs relicensed as key innovation arm of the NHS

ICHP today welcomes the news that NHS England has committed to the long term future of England’s Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), as part of a 10-year vision to drive health innovation and stimulate economic growth.

Today’s (24 May) NHS England Board meeting formally approved a new five year licence for the 15 AHSNs, with an option to roll this on for a further five years to 2028.

Set up in 2013 with a five year licence to encourage health innovation and stimulate economic growth, the AHSNs have spread over 330 innovations across 11,000 locations, benefiting 22 million patients, creating 500 jobs and generating £330m investment for the country.

Axel Heitmueller, ICHP Managing Director, said: “We welcome today’s news that AHSNs have been relicensed for a further five years demonstrating NHSE commitment to innovation. We have worked very hard over the past license period to help our local health economy to make the most of the potential innovation has to offer in an increasingly challenging operational, workforce and fiscal context. In the process, we have learned that there are some significant barriers to the adoption and particularly the diffusion of innovation and we look forward to working with NHSE to further reduce these. The additional funding help us and our partners in our mission to use innovation and collaboration for a healthier population in North West London.”

Ian Dodge, NHS England’s National Director for Strategy and Innovation, said: “I don’t think there’s a more important question the NHS faces than how can we get better at curating and spreading innovation? And who will serve as the NHS distribution network for innovation? The answer is the AHSNs as they enter their next phase and increasingly work together as a single national network of networks, helping to destroy NHS ‘not invented here’ syndrome.”

AHSNs have a unique place in England’s health system, building collaboration across all sectors including the NHS, social care, public health, universities, NIHR research bodies, charities and industry (from small medical technology enterprises to pharmaceutical companies). AHSNs also support economic growth by helping industry to better meet identified NHS needs.

Professor Mike Hannay, Chair of the AHSN Network said: “The impacts from our first licence highlight the fantastic potential of the AHSNs and today’s announcement represents a step change in the country’s approach to health innovation and transformation.

“Each AHSN works in its area to support local innovation and transformation, and comes together as a connected national network – this creates a unique formula to improve clinical outcomes, deliver better patient experiences, drive down the cost of care and stimulate economic growth.”

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