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Spotlight on innovation at life sciences forum

Paul Midgley, of Wilmington Healthcare, takes a look at the forthcoming HSJ Life Sciences Forum, where the NHS and industry will unite to discuss challenges and explore innovative solutions


‘The HSJ Life Sciences Forum: Innovating to deliver improved patient services and outcomes’, will bring the NHS and industry together in London on June 4 to explore some of the key implications of the NHS Long-term Plan.

The event, which will feature high profile speakers including Baroness Blackwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, aims to strengthen relationships between the NHS and industry in order to foster innovation and refine collaboration.

Innovation is a key tenet of the Long-term Plan, which makes it clear that Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) - which connect the NHS and academic organisations, local authorities, the third sector and industry to help facilitate changes in health and social care - have a key role to play.

AHSNs will be among the organisations giving presentations at the life sciences forum. We will also hear from the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC), which was set up in 2018 to reduce the amount of time it takes for patients to benefit from ground-breaking products for conditions such as cancer, dementia and diabetes.

Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs)

The Long-term Plan promises “to speed up the pipeline for developing innovations in the NHS, so that proven and affordable innovations get to patients faster,” It confirms that funding for AHSNs will be guaranteed until 2023, subject to their success in spreading proven innovations across England.

There are 15 AHSNs, which work across distinct geographies, serving different populations. They now have funding coming from three separate sources. NHS England (NHSE) is supporting the MedTech Innovation Fund, which will systematize promising technology and innovation; while NHS Improvement (NHSI) will help AHSNs drive patient safety and reduce avoidable harm.

The Office for Life Sciences is supporting AHSNs in driving medical technology and the Innovation Fund which provides accelerated access to new innovations before they would usually get to market.  It is also funding Innovation Exchanges – regional events where academics, industry and NHS health and social care organisations unite to discuss the latest healthcare innovations.  These events provide valuable opportunities for industry to engage with key stakeholders.

At the HSJ Life Sciences Forum, AHSNs will give presentations in the Governance and Regulation session on ‘enabling joint working across whole healthcare systems.’ They will include the following themes:

* Specific case studies of how AHSNs have helped industry develop joint-working relationships with Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) and Integrated Care Systems (ICSs).

* How AHSNs have supported full data sharing to aid industry collaboration

* How innovative digital technology has been implemented through AHSNs to improve patient outcomes.

Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC)

Since its recent inception, the AAC has already selected and supported 12 ‘rapid uptake products’ to increase their use within the NHS. They include a blood test for pre-eclampsia, which can diagnose the condition earlier in pregnancy and significantly reduce life-threatening complications.

The Government recently announced changes to the AAC to ensure that the most promising medicines, diagnostic tools and digital services get through the clinical development and regulatory approval process faster.

As part of the changes, the Government said: “The AAC will now become the new umbrella organisation for UK health innovation. It will act as the ‘front door’ for innovators looking to get their products funded by the NHS and will provide support to overcome barriers that can prevent the best medical innovations from reaching patients.”

AHSNs are playing a central role in the AAC, both by supporting the local uptake of the technologies and by helping to identify the next generation of innovations that can be considered for future adoption by the AAC.

The HSJ Life Sciences Forum, will feature presentations from the AAC during the ‘Governance and Regulation session. The presentations will be on the theme of: ‘Adopting innovation: success stories from AAC.’  They will include the following topics:

* How the AAC has performed so far

* How it has sped up access and aided innovation for new products

* How can the AAC become more beneficial for industry and what barriers remain?

Attend the Life Sciences Forum

Government initiatives in recent years have identified that patient access to new treatments and technologies is imperative if outcomes are to improve. However, the NHS is facing a huge financial challenge while simultaneously attempting to transform services through the STP process and formation of ICSs.

The HSJ Life Sciences Forum is an exclusive event for representatives from industry who seek to develop relationships with and deliver innovation to the NHS. It will facilitate debates on improving access to new treatments and technologies for patients; give industry a better understanding of the challenges faced by the NHS and how it can help; and provide insights into how efficiencies can be delivered through medicines optimisation.

To view the full agenda and book your ticket please visit:


Paul Midgley is part of the Consulting Team at Wilmington Healthcare. For information on Wilmington Healthcare, which incorporates HSJ, visit

28th May 2019



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