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AHSNs to receive £39m to assess benefits of new technologies

The government has announced a major initiative to encourage the rapid uptake of health innovation – with a central role for Academic Health Science Networks.

Today’s announcement, by the Office for Life Sciences, confirms that England’s 15 AHSNs will play a key part in getting innovative new diagnostic tools, treatments and medical technologies to patients more quickly.

The AHSNs will share £39m to assess the benefits of new technologies and support NHS uptake of those that deliver real benefits to patients in line with local needs.

In addition, a Digital Health Technology Catalyst will be created with £35m funding for innovators to develop digital technologies for use by patients, and a £6m Pathway Transformation Fund will help NHS organisations integrate new technologies into everyday practice.

Read more on the government announcement here.

Accelerated Access Review graphicWelcoming the announcement, Oxford AHSN Chief Executive Prof Gary Ford CBE, FMedSci said: “Our ability to identify and spread new technologies and approaches that deliver better outcomes for patients and more efficient NHS services is increasingly recognised.

“The new announcement following the Accelerated Access Review gives added impetus to this work.

“It will enable us to go further in matching solutions to challenges, channeling our networks and expertise to assess innovative products from our academic, health service and industry partners and promote their spread across our region and the wider NHS.”

Dr Richard Torbett, Executive Director of Commercial Policy at ABPI, one of our partners, said: “AHSNs are a critical delivery partner for bringing the Accelerated Access Review (AAR) to life, and £39 million of investment is an important first step in pulling industry and the health service together to realise the review’s ambition.”

Peter Ellingworth, Chief Executive of ABHI and Oxford AHSN Partnership Board member said: “These additional funding initiatives will complement work already in place on Innovation Tariff, NICE processes and horizon-scanning. Medtech has the potential to improve the efficiency of treatment pathways and deliver better healthcare outcomes. This overall package will benefit patients, the health system and the wider economy.”

AHSNs will use their established networks and expertise to:

  • identify priorities and bring people and organisations together
  • provide the first port of call for information – for example signposting commercial innovators and matching already proven solutions to challenges faced by local NHS organisations
  • share best practice around health and care organisations, and offer expert advice about how to get transformation and innovation adopted
  • identify opportunities for patients to take part in trials and pilots
  • work with health and commercial partners to test out solutions
  • collaborate as a national network of 15 covering England to identify what is working best locally, and then scale it nationally.

AHSNs will receive £39m funding over three years.

The Accelerated Access Review (AAR) is an independent report commissioned by the government and published in 2016 – see background information on the AAR here.

The AAR looked at ways to ensure patients get quicker access to innovative new diagnostic tools, treatments and medical technologies – with the aim of making the UK a world leader in healthcare innovation.

Prof Sir John Bell, the Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, chaired the AAR’s expert advisory group.