Academic Health Science Network (AHSN)

Our AHSN exists to improve health and create wealth, and to enable the NHS and academia to work collaboratively with industry to identify, adopt and spread innovation and best practice.

UCLPartners is one of 15 AHSNs in England. It is one of the largest AHSNs in the country, serving a diverse population of over six million people in north east and north central London, south and west Hertfordshire, south Bedfordshire and south west and mid Essex.

The work of our AHSN is delivered through programmes that focus on six key areas:

These key areas account for over 80% of premature mortality and current healthcare spend in the UK.

Each of our programmes is led by a single accountable person from one of our member organisations. These programmes bring together patients and carers, academics and clinical leaders from across the partnership to co-design and diffuse sustainable healthcare solutions.

Our Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) programmes, NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN), NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) and work as an Education Lead Provider all contribute to our AHSN programmes of work.

The work of our AHSN is linked to appropriate local and national patient and carer organisations or charities. These trusted alliances enable us to gain a deeper understanding of the health problems within our population, and to co-design more relevant solutions.

AHSNs: Spreading innovation, improving health, generating economic growth

There are 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) across England, established by NHS England in 2013 to spread innovation at pace and scale – improving health and generating economic growth.

As the only bodies that connect NHS and academic organisations, local authorities, the third sector and industry, we are catalysts that create the right conditions to facilitate change across whole health and social care economies, with a clear focus on improving outcomes for patients.

This means we are uniquely placed to identify and spread health innovation at pace and scale; driving the adoption and spread of innovative ideas and technologies across large populations.

Although small organisations – which ensures we remain flexible and responsive to emerging opportunities and challenges – we lead large regional networks.

Hence our impact rests in our ability to bring people, resources and organisations together quickly, delivering benefits that could not be achieved alone.

The impact we are making is already clear: for example a survey of AHSNs commissioned by NHS England in 2015 found that 73% of respondents would recommend working with us.

Each AHSN works within its own area to develop projects, programmes and initiatives that reflect the diversity of our local populations and healthcare challenges. However, we all share the following priorities:

  • Promoting economic growth: fostering opportunities for industry to work effectively with the NHS
  • Diffusing innovation: creating the right environment, and supporting collaboration across boundaries, in order to adopt and spread innovation at pace and scale
  • Improving patient safety: using our knowledge, expertise and networks to bring together patients, healthcare staff and partners to determine priorities and develop and implement solutions
  • Optimising medicine use: ensuring that medication is used to its maximum benefit – improving safety and making efficient use of NHS resources
  • Improving quality and reducing variation: by spreading best practice we increase productivity and reduce variation, thereby improving patient outcomes
  • Putting research into practice: our strong links with academia mean we are uniquely placed to support the translation of research into clinical practice
  • Collaborating on national programmes: our unified programmes focus on delivery of the SBRI Healthcare initiative (supporting SME interaction), the NHS Innovation Accelerator, Patient Safety Collaboratives and medicines optimisation.

Ours is not a short-term challenge but as our AHSN Network impact report demonstrates we are already making a difference for patients and the public, for innovators, for clinicians and for the healthcare system.

Find out more about how ASHNs are supporting system-wide health transformation:

Other Academic Health Science Networks in England