Academic Health Science Network North East and North Cumbria

Impact Report


Scroll to view the interactive Impact Report

Foreword by Nicola Hutchinson, Chief Executive Officer, AHSN NENC

It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience looking back at what has been achieved over the last year – both within the AHSN NENC and also the wider health system across the North East and North Cumbria.

Our position at the heart of the regional health and care ecosystem offers an unparalleled understanding of local needs and complexities. This year we are proud to have supported the development, evaluation, and spread and adoption of many innovations that have the potential to make a real difference to the communities we serve, while also supporting economic growth.

Through our Innovation Pathway, we continue to mobilise the region’s health assets to provide a holistic approach to innovators navigating the system. As you will see in this report, the AHSN NENC Team has facilitated collaboration across all sectors including the NHS, social care, public health, academia and industry.

During the last 12 months we have been looking at new ways of working and thinking to develop a greener and more sustainable NHS in line with the 2040 carbon net zero target. A significant amount of work in this area is underway throughout the system and we are working with partners from a range of disciplines to support the delivery of sustainability solutions and share best practice.

Another key focus for us has been supporting programmes that address the health inequalities faced across our region, such as our work aimed at reducing cardiovascular risk, improving respiratory function and targeting opioid prescribing.

In the year ahead, we will continue to support the healthcare system in whatever way we can for the benefit of the health and economic prosperity of the region.

An introduction to

Reducing Health Inequalities

North East and North Cumbria has the lowest healthy life expectancy and highest mortality compared to other areas of England.

Our health improvement programmes aim to target these health inequalities that impact so significantly upon the people in our Integrated Care System, with a focus upon addressing priorities identified as contributing most to the poor outcomes in our population. We have high profile programmes of work aimed at reducing cardiovascular risk, improving respiratory function and targeting opioid prescribing all conditions that disproportionately affect those in the CORE20PLUS5 populations.

Case study

Preventing Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) within the NENC

A CVD strategy group incorporating stakeholders from across the NENC, and third sector partners, was developed to steer the AHSN NENC CVD prevention programme.

Find out more

We have supported three sites (Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland and County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trusts) regarding the rapid uptake product, PCSK9i, which is now complete.

A third edition of the AF Card Deck was distributed across NENC in summer 2022.

Case study

Identifying and Treating Patients with Hypercholesterolaemia

The AHSN NENC is leading on an ambitious three-year national lipid and familial hypercholesterolaemia FH) programme, in partnership with the Accelerated Accesses Collaborative (AAC) and a working group of stakeholders from different areas of the NHS and industry.

Find out more

For PCSK9i, the programme is at 99% of year-to-date trajectory with almost 7800 patients nationally now accessing this treatment

Over 2076 patient entries into the national REDCap PCSK9i Audit tool for lipid optimisation using novel therapies

177 560 people now take statins and 116 079 of those are high intensity – an increase of 3%

An introduction to

Transforming Patient Safety

Through the work of our Patient Safety Collaborative, the AHSN NENC supports a culture of safety, continuous learning and sustainable improvement across our regional health and social care system.

Commissioned by NHS Improvement the AHSN NENC is one of 15 AHSNs who deliver the National Safety Improvement programmes across our respective geographical footprints. Mid-pandemic our 2021-2022 commission focused our delivering safety interventions that were envisaged to have the greatest impact on helping the NHS respond to COVID. These programmes spanned the themes of Managing Deterioration, Medicines Safety in Care homes, Maternity & Neonates, Mental Health, Respiratory & Emergency Laparotomy.

The following are just two examples of the safety improvement programmes delivered by the NENC team.

Case study

Optimal Umbilical Cord Management

The 2021-2022 Maternity & Neonatal Safety Improvement programmes focused on optimal cord management in babies born at less than 34 weeks, where the umbilical cord is not clamped until 60 seconds after birth.

Find out more

Evidence shows that optimal cord management reduces death in preterm babies by nearly a third by reducing the risk of brain haemorrhage. (BAPM, 2020)

It also reduces the need for blood transfusions by around 10%. (BAPM, 2020)

Data reporting in 2021/22 suggests that 88 more babies received optimal cord management.

Case study

Medicines Safety Improvement Programme (MedSIP)

The aim of the programme was to reduce medicine administration errors in care homes by 50% by March 2024, through medicines optimisation and quality improvement.

Find out more

A Managing Interruptions intervention was tested in one care home.

A 3-way Communication Intervention was tested in two care homes.

An introduction to

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.

Case study

Innovation Forum

AHSN NENC has established an active and engaged Innovation Forum group, made up of innovation leads from the NHS Trusts, to provide a space for those leading on innovation in regional healthcare to meet and discuss ideas, share best practices and collaborate. The Innovation Forum allows members to capture innovative ideas from frontline staff and access tailored support from the AHSN NENC to bring those innovations to life.

Bi-monthly face to face meetings.

Online Teams platform has been developed to facilitate ongoing communications and engagement between meetings.

Case study

Robotic Process Automation

The AHSN NENC worked with Blue Prism to understand the issues with delays in the cancer pathway and implement Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to automate high volume, repetitive administrative and clerical tasks and to deploy the automations at scale.

Find out more

RPA provides an opportunity for Trusts to improve capacity, scale, and quality of administrative processes, both back office and clinical and patient facing, without increasing the workforce.

RPA/Digital Workers can perform tasks at scale and at pace with a near zero error rate.


Case study

Using a 6 lead ECG within the Community

The KardiaMobile 6L device – the world’s only six-lead personal ECG for healthcare staff to use on patients within the community, ensures patients can be remotely monitored without going to a hospital.

Find out more

5,814 ECGS have been conducted over the course of the project.

100% of patients surveyed said they preferred the new technology to the old approach.

The success of the project resulted in the nomination and shortlisting for two awards at the 2021 Dynamo Awards and two awards at the 2021 Royal College of Psychiatry Awards.

An introduction to

Support cohesion of regional infrastructure to operationalise IP

The Importance of Innovation to Drive Health Improvements

The Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (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.

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the need for faster development and adoption of innovation to address the challenges raised by the pandemic and how this response has accelerated the delivery of innovation to patients. The AHSN NENC has played a major role in bringing these innovations to the health and care system and ultimately for the benefit of patients.

Case study

Bringing Together the Health and Life Science Infrastructure in NENC: The Ecosystem

The aim of the Ecosystem continues to be to bring together the health and life science infrastructure in the North East & North Cumbria to showcase the region.

37 organisations have agreed to sign the ‘Health and Life Science Pledge.’

Case study

Harnessing Innovation within our Region

The Innovation Pathway provides the robust structure, and processes, to enable companies to access NHS expertise to grow their business, and ultimately improve patient outcomes in health and social care.

Find out more

Over 350 innovations registered for support

The Ecosystem is continuing to be developed with over 100 organisations engaged and providing support to innovators navigating the pathway.

Case study

Clinicabin: Respiratory Diagnostic Services

CliniCabin is a portable modular self-contained unit, constructed using a lightweight steel frame and allows patients and clinicians to meet safely in two sealed areas, where they can communicate through a glass screen.

Find out more

The rapid air exchange systems and ventilation of the units reduces the fallow period between patients from hours to less than six minutes.

Case study

SBRI: Enhancing the Uptake of Known Best Practice

SBRI Healthcare is an NHS England & NHS Improvement initiative, supported by the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and managed by LGC Group. It aims to promote UK economic growth whilst addressing unmet health needs and enhancing the uptake of known best practice.

Find out more

Green Rewards have recorded 156,000 sustainable actions.

£99,076.00 awarded for sustainability projects.

Case study


The AHSN NENC is committed to supporting the system achieve its sustainability objectives. A workshop was held in March 2022 at the Venturefest exhibition to bring these plans to life.

Find out more

There were over 40 participants involved in the workshop.

As a result of the workshop a new ‘Start from Zero’ working group was formed comprising of representatives from Primary/Secondary care, the I.C.S and relevant businesses.

An introduction to

Use digital solutions as an enabler

The last year has seen the formation of a Digital Transformation team within the AHSN NENC, growing from a team of one person to a full digital team that is well integrated within our local ICS. During the first year, team members have invested a significant amount of time building relationships with key partners in the region to understand the needs of our local healthcare system, and how we can add value in a complex and ever demanding sector.

Working closely with partners, the teams role is to identify, support and facilitate opportunities to use digital health initiatives to transform pathways of care. There’s been some significant achievements so far including investments secured in our region from NHS England programmes such as Remote Monitoring Scaling Programme and Digital First Primary Care. These programmes aim to accelerate the scale of using digital innovations to transform patient care and empower local people and healthcare professionals to embrace digital care.

Case study

Centralising Access to Clinical Resources

The ultimate ambition of the Clinical Digital Resource Collaborative (CDRC) remains to become a regional/national central hub of clinical resources. CDRC has evolved into a robust, bespoke, regional primary care asset with the potential to save lives, save money, save time, and positively impact primary care for both clinicians and patients.

Find out more

We have recruited two new members to the team including a clinical EMIS developer and a Project Support Officer.

We have formed a new partnership relationship with PRIMIS Cumbria which has dramatically improved CDRC’s EMIS offer to the NENC region.

Case study

Connecting People and Technology to Improve Research Outcomes

The Trusted Research and Evaluation Environment (TREE) is a collaborative programme looking at how we connect the right people, skills, technology, data and governance to improve how we carry out and heath and care research and service improvement in the North East and North Cumbria.

Find out more

TREE allows partners from across the NHS, local authorities and universities to collaborate on evaluation or research projects using linked data from different sources to answer specific questions.

Case study

Using Digital Innovations to Transform Patient Care

In 2020, NHSX initiated a new Remote Monitoring Scaling Programme to build on the digital health advances achieved during the COVID-19 pandemic and accelerate the use of digital innovations to transform patient care. As part of this programme, the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC) supported projects to deploy the Health Call “Digital Care Home” service into the regions care homes.

Find out more

At the end of March 2022, the programme will have made digital services available to over 200 care homes and over 7000 of their residents.