AHSNs to be relicensed as NHS ‘centrepiece for innovation’


NHS England has confirmed its intention to relicense England’s 15 Academic Health Science Networks.

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NHS England’s Board met last week and considered a report from National Director of Strategy and Innovation Ian Dodge, which highlights the AHSNs’ significant impact and outlines how this can be the launch pad for an even more influential future role as the NHS ‘centrepiece for innovation’.

There was unanimous support from the Board to progress the relicensing of all 15 existing AHSNs. The detailed relicensing process will continue throughout the summer and the new 5-year licence period will start in April 2018.

The AHSNs were set up by the NHS in 2013 to work across all sectors involved in health and care - the NHS, social care, public health, academia, the voluntary sector and industry.

They connect people and organisations, identifying innovative ways to do things differently, better and cheaper.

AHSN Network Chair Dr Liz Mear said: “This fantastic news recognises both the huge impact achieved by the 15 AHSNs during their first licences, and the potential to do even more in future.

“Our health systems are facing unprecedented pressure and today’s support for AHSN relicensing signals the vision and ambition of the NHS to remain the best in the world.

Professor Steve Feast, Managing Director, Eastern Academic Health Science Network said: “Eastern AHSN operates in one of the world’s foremost regions for life sciences and innovation. By drawing on the expertise available on our doorstep, we have made great strides in helping to identify and spread new and better ways to deliver healthcare services that improve local people’s health”.

“The new five-year licence from NHS England, in addition to the three-year award we received from the Office of Life Science last week, allows us to continue to build and make further strides in improving people's health and care outcomes".

Speaking at the Board meeting, Ian Dodge said that during their first licences the AHSNs have ‘proved their worth’ and are now regarded as an integral part of the long term future of the NHS architecture.

Mr Dodge highlighted a range of impacts including the detection of atrial fibrillation; digital technology; and support for industry innovators to spread medical technology and innovative devices throughout the NHS.

Since 2013 the AHSNs’ work has benefited 6 million patients, with over 200 innovations spread throughout 11,000 locations. More than £330M investment has been leveraged, creating 500 jobs – reinforcing the AHSNs’ outstanding contribution to economic growth as well as improving patient outcomes.

Confirmation that the AHSNs will be relicensed follows the recent Government announcement of a major role for the AHSNs in coordinating ‘Innovation Exchanges’.

The AHSNs will now work with NHS England and NHS Improvement - along with key national and local partners including the Office for Life Sciences and local Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships - to set out the detailed AHSN activities and support services for the next 5 years. It is expected that this will focus on two broad areas:

  • Driving the rapid adoption and spread of innovation (including delivery of the Innovation Exchanges)
  • Supporting transformation and improvement of local health and care systems. 


About Eastern Academic Health Science Network

Eastern Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) operates as part of a national network of 15 AHSNs, established by NHS England in 2013. Our objective is to support the adoption of proven innovations that will benefit the health and wealth of people and businesses across the East of England.

Innovation is our business. We help create, accelerate and deploy solutions that positively impact upon real health and care problems today.

We don’t work alone. Our network brings together innovators, expert practitioners, researchers, citizens and staff from across health and care communities.

Find out more at www.eahsn.org


About The AHSN Network

There are 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) across England, working to spread innovation at pace and scale – improving health and generating economic growth. Each AHSN works across a distinct geography.

As the only bodies that connect NHS and academic organisations, local authorities, the third sector and industry, AHSNs are catalysts that create the right conditions to facilitate change across whole health and social care economies, with a clear focus on improving outcomes for patients. This means they are uniquely placed to identify and spread health innovation at pace and scale; driving the adoption and spread of innovative ideas and technologies across large populations.

For examples of the AHSNs’ innovation projects visit the Atlas of solutions at www.atlas.ahsnnetwork.com

For further background to the AHSNs visit www.ahsnnetwork.com



Eastern AHSN (Academic Health Science Network) turn ideas into health impact by bringing together all partners in the health sector to develop and deliver innovative care.

Eastern AHSN