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Our May events demonstrated successful clinical collaborations making a difference to patients

By Dr Paul Durrands, Chief Operating Officer

A year ago the Oxford Academic Health Science Network held its annual general meeting at a central location. It was a useful way to meet some of our stakeholders but its impact was limited.

We knew we could reach more people so this year we decided to do things differently, teaming up with our partners to co-host a series of showcases during May.

Oxford AHSN is all about clinicians and managers in the region working together at a local level to improve clinical standards and patient safety and support the uptake of innovation into practice to improve patient outcomes.

It is a ‘ground up’ approach, evidence-based and clinically led. Apart from our small full-time team, everyone comes as volunteers to work on real frontline problems and transform the quality and effectiveness of healthcare for our local patients.

The Oxford AHSN is not the small core team, it’s a professional network of the 100,000 or so people who deliver, commission, research or develop products and services for healthcare in our region. The work is also supported by about 80 patient leaders.

The core team supports collaboration and partnership with evidence, change management and quality improvement skills needed to implement on the ground. In line with this approach, we developed the content of seven partner showcase events with our partners and clinical leaders who talked about the success of some of these locally-led collaborative projects.

As the only person who attended all seven I can honestly say they exceeded our expectations! One partner told me: “This was great – we don’t celebrate our work enough”. Here’s what a few others had to say:

  • “The work being undertaken by Oxford AHSN is encouraging wider spread and adoption of innovative medicines, diagnostics, devices and digital applications across the whole region that are making a difference to patients and reducing costs,” Jean O’Callaghan, Chief Executive, Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust
  • “If you have the tiniest idea or spark of innovation, don’t think it’s too small,” Dr Tina Kenny, Medical Director, Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust
  • “What the AHSN has created is a real asset … and there is an impact well beyond the Oxford AHSN area,” Stuart Bell, Chief Executive, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • “We absolutely see the AHSN as a core part of developing networks across the region,” Prof Joe Harrison, Chief Executive, Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • “The whole concept of the Academic Health Science Network is a very strong one driving clinical collaboration, making sure clinicians are driving change, adopting innovation across the region and creating successful companies as a consequence,” Dr Bruno Holthof, Chief Executive, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • “I am very grateful for the leadership the AHSN has provided. The AHSN is acting as a sort of chaperone to take innovators to healthcare systems to demonstrate the utility of innovation so that the value is much more apparent to those who might use it across the system. That encourages adoption and much wider diffusion,” Prof Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine, University of Oxford

One of the aims was to highlight our review of 2015/16 which we called ‘A year in numbers’ – for instance, the number of clinicians who are members of our clinical networks has doubled in a year to over 2,500 – but these events generated some new numbers of their own!

2500 clinicians engagedWe reached more than five times as many people as attended last year’s single event – 350+ came to one of the showcases which took place in High Wycombe, Milton Keynes, Milton Park, Oxford, Reading and Wokingham. Describing the impact of the collaborative work on our three million population were:

  • 35 different presentations, tailored to the local partner
  • 20 partner contributors – from the NHS, academia and industry

The showcases will have a lasting legacy. They generated a wealth of rich content including video and presentations – accessible via the links below for each event – which should convince you that collaborating with colleagues from across the region will deliver improvements in your practice and for your patients.

As usual the informal networking was as valuable as the formal content at these events, with new contacts made, existing ones strengthened and awareness increased for how the AHSN’s programmes and networks can improve working lives and patient care.

We are extremely grateful for the support we had in putting the agendas together. That support came from the top with chief executives of our largest NHS partners chairing six of the showcases – with the seventh hosted by industry leaders, emphasising the unique role of AHSNs in fostering economic growth. We were greatly helped by local communications teams. I would also like to thank Megan Turmezei, Martin Leaver, Amy Shearman and many others for organising the events and especially to the presenters who made them relevant, stimulating and valuable.

We are planning to repeat this format in 2017 and look forward to working with our partners to make them even better – with even more people contributing and attending. Do let us know if you have any ideas.