NHS England and the AHSN Network have today published the results of the first stakeholder survey to measure the current perception of AHSNs across England; with the majority of respondents (73%) saying they would recommend working with AHSNs.
The NHS needs to deliver a step-change in the way it identifies, adopts and spreads best practice, clinical innovations and new technologies more quickly and at scale in order to meet the enormous challenges set out in the Five Year Forward View. AHSNs have a critical role to play in equipping the NHS to do this, in particular by making productive connections between the NHS, industry, researchers and patients. They achieve impact by working with and through thousands of individuals and by acting as catalysts, brokers, coordinators, sponsors and knowledge-sharers.
1,200 people from across health and social care, patient groups, academia, industry and the charity sector took part in the survey to share their views on how the AHSNs are delivering on increasing the adoption and diffusion of innovation and research, and spreading best practice across the NHS.
The survey results show that the AHSNs have a good reputation for facilitating collaboration and supporting partners to address the needs of their local communities.They also highlight clear demand for greater visibility of the AHSNs and their role in championing the uptake of innovation in the NHS. AHSNs are working together to address this demand, including by collaborating on the NHS Innovation Accelerator programme, supporting NHS England’s test beds initiative and providing input to the government’s Accelerated Access Review. Together, AHSNs are helping to put the NHS at the forefront of collaborative working for system-wide improvement and mobilise world-leading expertise within the NHS in support of economic growth.
As the first national measurement of AHSN activity, the networks will use the results of this survey to:
Dr Christopher Parker, Managing Director of West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN), said: "As an organisation, we are only in our second year of full operation, and this is the first time that the survey has been run. We are delighted that the responses show that 97% of our stakeholders have at least some understanding of our organisation, while over half believe that our role has become clearer in the past 12 months. Furthermore, more than half of respondents stated that their relationship with the AHSN had improved over the past year, and 61% would recommend working with the WMAHSN to others. It is also encouraging that our priorities match those of so many of our stakeholders, especially regarding our work around long-term conditions.
"As one of 15 AHSNs nationally, it is very difficult to compare us since we all have different priorities and populations. Despite this, the survey is very helpful in that it highlights areas where our performance can be improved. We have learnt from this and will concentrate on those areas over the coming year, particularly regarding working relationships and building a culture of partnership and collaboration through greater involvement and engagement with stakeholders. We are confident that we will do this and I thank all those who have helped us by completing the survey."
Adrian Bull, Chair of the AHSN Network and Managing Director of Imperial College Health Partners, said: “I am encouraged by the results of this survey – not just in terms of the number of stakeholders who felt moved to provide feedback, but also by the progress and impact that the AHSNs have demonstrated to date.
“Our stakeholders are clearly happy to continue working with us, and see great value in our abilities to both understand the local health landscape and needs, and facilitate collaboration with partners to address them. However, we have noted the clear demand for greater visibility of the AHSNs, and we will continue to develop this through building on the good working relationships which have already been established right across the country.”
To find out more about the work of the AHSNs, read the 2015 Impact Report.