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England to launch 15 networks for NHS to work with academia

NHS England backs Academic Health Science Networks to spread innovation

England to launch 15 networks for NHS to work with academia

NHS England has confirmed that 15 new networks will be launched throughout the country to provide a space for the NHS to collaborate with academia and industry on innovations in healthcare.

The Academic Health Science Networks (AHSN) were recommended in NHS England chief executive Sir David Nicholson's Innovation, Health and Wealth report, and were welcomed by an industry that has long demanded greater uptake of innovation in the UK.

Stephen Whitehead, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), said he was “delighted” with the launch of AHSNs as they will help speed up the process to get medicines recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to patients.

He said: “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.”

NHS England didn't give specific details of how the AHSNs will work, but said each will intend to build strong relationships with its regional scientific and academic communities, as well as industry,  to develop solutions to healthcare problems and then to spread these solutions throughout the country.

This will be achieved by working with all parts of the NHS, and ties in with the ABPI's ambitions to bring pharma and NHS closer together.

According to England's chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies, AHSN's will also be encouraged to promote and support increased activity in and performance of health research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

“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,” she said.

Sir David Nicholson, who is to retire from the NHS next year, gave his backing to the plan and the need to work together to improve healthcare in the UK.

He 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.”

The AHSNs will be based in the following regions: 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.

24th May 2013

From: Research, Healthcare

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