Foreword by Dr. Nicola Hutchinson, Chief Executive Officer, AHSN NENC
The Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria entered its 10th year in 2023, and as we reach this milestone it gives me great pleasure to showcase what the organisation has achieved over the last year.
The health and social care landscape is continuously evolving and needs to adapt to the needs of the communities they serve. Here in the North East and North Cumbria, the AHSN NENC is proud to play an instrumental role in identifying and addressing unmet healthcare and patient safety needs as well as reducing healthcare inequalities.
Our established relationships with partners across the regional health ecosystem enable us to lead the way when it comes to accelerating innovation within the sector. During 2022-23 we have supported many innovators with the development and deployment of transformative solutions through our Innovation Pathway.
We have also brought the sector together to launch the Health and Life Sciences Pledge, which aims to collectively tackle challenges within the system and to celebrate our unique assets and infrastructure in the region.
As you will see in this report, we are committed to delivering programmes of work which help to reduce health inequalities. We have included examples of some of this work such as our Cardiovascular Disease Prevention programme; supporting the improvement in the quality and safety of maternity and neonatal care; and our role in the regional delivery of the National Polypharmacy Programme in partnership with the NENC Integrated Care System, to name a few.
We also spotlight the work of our Digital Team who have made great strides in our mission to drive inclusive digital transformation across the North East and North Cumbria.
This report provides a snapshot of the AHSN NENC successes of the last year and showcases the important role of AHSNs in supporting the development and spread of innovation across health regional services.
As we look to the year ahead, there is much to celebrate, as well as our 10th anniversary, the wonderful NHS is celebrating 75 years of service.
We are very much looking forward to continuing to work closely with partners to support the development and adoption of even more transformative health and care innovations for the benefit of the people and the economy of the North East and North Cumbria.
Reducing Health Inequalities
The last year has seen some exciting new initiatives for the AHSN NENC health improvement team. We have continued to have a particular focus on addressing risk factors that contribute to the high levels of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in our ICB. We have successfully bid for funding as part of the Innovation for Health Inequalities Programme (InHIP) which is supporting a project that will increase our understanding of the challenges that communities in Middlesbrough have engaging with annual CVD checks. We are delivering this important programme in collaboration with our colleagues at the NIHR ARC NENC and with the Cardiac Prevention Clinical Network. We have also attracted further funding to explore how we might increase access to cholesterol testing for those in disadvantaged communities through a new scheme call the System Transformation Fund (STF). This programme also incorporates support for an SBRI grant awarded to the company who has developed this innovative cholesterol testing pathway.
Our national leadership of the AHSN Network/AAC Lipid Optimisation and Familial Hypercholesterolaemia programme came to an end in March and we are now supporting the handover of the programme to a new CVD AHSN Network national programme, celebrating the huge achievements and ensuring a sustainable model that have come from our support of this program.
Other national programmes of work delivered in partnership with our ICB have included the National Polypharmacy Programme and our National Insight Priorities Programme (NIPP) which is focusing on supporting primary care to address the challenges of high levels of opioid prescribing. Areas of local health programme work have focussed upon Respiratory, Mental Health and Pain.
Professor Julia Newton, Medical Director, AHSN NENC
Transforming Patient Safety
The AHSN NENC Patient Safety Collaborative (PSC) is a pivotal delivery vehicle for NHS England’s Patient Safety Strategy and the team are committed to improving the regions health and patient safety outcomes by successfully delivering the five National Safety Improvement Programmes (NAT SIPs). The PSC team work with regional and national partners across health and social care to support the delivery of these five programmes and through co-design, co-delivery and co-investment, have generated improvement across all programmes during 2022/23.
This years commission has built on previous years’ work across four of the programmes and introduced a new fifth System Safety programme. Our current programmes are:
- Maternity & Neonates (optimisation and stabilisation of the pre-term infant; early recognition and management of deterioration of women and babies)
- Medicines Safety (improving the care of people living with chronic pain)
- Managing Deterioration (reducing deterioration associated harm by improving prevention, identification, escalation and response to physical deterioration)
- Mental Health (reducing the use of restrictive practice)
- System Safety to support organisations with the implementation of the new Patient Safety Incident Response Framework.
All programmes have delivered significant impact, with some now achieving sustainability where the safety intervention is fully and consistently embedded within the clinical pathway.
The following are two examples of the successes delivered by the NENC PSC team
Wendy Halliburton, Patient Safety Lead & Programme Lead for System Safety SIP, AHSN NENC
Support role of NHS in health and social recovery
The AHSN Network is mandated by NHS England, NHS Improvement and the Office for Life Sciences to support the development, evaluation, adoption and diffusion of innovations across the NHS to improve health outcomes and support in health and social care recovery.
Working collaboratively with NHS staff, partners and members across primary care, secondary care and the wider health and care sector, we identify unmet needs and facilitate the development of innovations to address these challenges.
Support cohesion of regional infrastructure to operationalise IP
The Importance of Innovation to Drive Health Improvements
The AHSN NENC is committed to bringing commercially viable and sustainable innovations to address the many health challenges facing our society. Our mission is aligned with the UK Life Sciences Vision to solve some of the biggest healthcare problems of our generation.
Innovation is key to driving this vision and the AHSN NENC is a key delivery partner of innovation in the health and care sector. Through delivering innovation with our partners and stakeholders the AHSN NENC provides a unique role supporting the development, adoption and scale up of proven innovations.
Use digital solutions as an enabler
It has been a year of significant growth and achievements across the digital portfolio within the Digital Transformation Team. We have continued to develop strong relationships with our primary care digital colleagues as well as across the emerging new structures and the ICB.
We now have some well-established digital programmes such as Digital Champions, a partnership with the Digital first primary care team at NHSE and Redmoor Health, Digital Inclusion and Mental Health which you can read more about below.
Plus, we continue to support early-stage digital innovation through programmes of work including our Primary Care Innovation Fund and also the North of Tyne Digital Accelerator Programme. In this programme we see some exciting new approaches to using digital and technology to support health and care services alongside evaluating existing solutions in real world settings.
Next year we hope to focus on expanding our network and work programme to further support secondary care services, social care and really expand our digital industry connections. Furthermore, we aim to establish some interest and working groups to help the system consider the opportunities and challenges around new emerging digital approaches such as AI and RPA as well as thinking about how we support the local system to become the go to region for digital innovation in health.