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AHSNs launched for England

15 new Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) have been confirmed by NHS England. The networks will focus on innovation to boost patient outcomes and contribute to economic growth.

AHSNs will bring together clinical research and trials, informatics, education and healthcare delivery to develop solutions and spread existing expertise more quickly. Funded by NHS England, the networks will also build strong relationships with academic communities and industry.

NHS England’s chief executive, Sir David Nicholson, said: “The NHS is full of brilliant people with brilliant ideas. To spread ideas right across the NHS means working collaboratively with all those who have an interest.

“AHSNs offer a more systematic delivery mechanism so that innovation spreads quickly and successfully through the NHS, making the best possible use of precious NHS resources and in ensuring the most advanced treatments, technologies and medicines are available to patients.”

Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer, said: “I am delighted the 15 AHSNs are now designated and licensed. They will have a major role in improving patient outcomes and population health right across the country through faster identification, adoption and spread of proven innovations and best practice.

“This will be achieved through collaboration within each AHSN and across AHSNs, and through working collaboratively with industry. This will also be achieved by the AHSNs promoting and supporting increased activity and performance of health research, which is delivered through the National Institute for Health Research.

“The AHSNs provide an important mechanism for achieving a step-change in the way the NHS translates research, innovation and best practice into effective and cost-effective treatments and services for patients.”

Earl Howe, health minister, said: “Britain is one of the best research centres in the world and it is important that we harness the skills and creativity in this sector to really improve the lives of those who use the NHS.

“The new AHSNs will help us develop better technology and make better use of the skills of NHS staff. They will also help us get in a better position to tackle the changing needs of our population and ensure patients get the care they deserve.”

Stephen Whitehead, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), said: “I am delighted that the new AHSNs, which will help spread innovation throughout the NHS, have today been confirmed. In the UK, patients still have to wait too long to access NICE recommended medicines on the NHS, but AHSNs will help speed this process up and help break down barriers to people getting innovative new treatments. The pharmaceutical industry has played a key role in helping to setup England’s 15 AHSNs by bringing expertise and insight in to how technologies are developed and disseminated in a commercial environment.

“AHSNs are unique because for the first time we will have a systematic network whose sole objective is to get the best ideas and treatments spread across the NHS as quickly and widely as possible. This is good news for patients and will also create a fertile environment for scientists and life science companies to research and develop new life changing medicines. We now look forward to help leading AHSN’s in partnership with clinicians, academia, NHS managers and other healthcare stakeholders to ensure they are a success.”

The designated AHSNs are: East Midlands; Eastern; Greater Manchester; North East and North Cumbria; North West Coast; Imperial College Health Partners; Oxford; South London; South West Peninsula; Kent, Surrey and Sussex; UCL Partners; Wessex; West Midlands; West of England; and Yorkshire and Humber.

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