Academic Health Science Networks


There are 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) across England, established by NHS England in 2013 to spread innovation at pace and scale – improving health and generating economic growth. Each AHSN works across a distinct geography serving a different population in each region.

AHSNs connect NHS and academic organisations, local authorities, charities and industry and provide a range of practical support to facilitate change across health and social care economies, with a clear focus on improving outcomes for patients. AHSNs 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.

The AHSN’s provide a AHSN Network Innovation Exchange, designed to support innovators at every stage of development to help them understand NHS challenges and connect them to the help they need to succeed.

In 2018–20, the AHSNs are delivering seven national adoption and spread programmes, commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement:

  • Atrial fibrillation (AF): Sharing learning and spreading best practice across the 15 AHSNs to reduce AF-related strokes.
  • Emergency laparotomy: A collaborative approach to improving standards of care for patients undergoing emergency laparotomy surgery.
  • ESCAPE-pain: A group rehabilitation programme for people with osteoarthritis, providing self-management support in the community.
  • PINCER: Supporting pharmacists and GPs to identify patients at risk from their medications and taking the right action.
  • PReCePT: Working with maternity hospitals to use magnesium sulphate to prevent cerebral palsy in very premature babies.
  • Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM): Bringing together police and healthcare professionals to make a positive difference to the lives of people with complex mental health needs.
  • Transfer of Care Around Medicines (TCAM): Help for patients who need extra support with prescribed medicines when they leave hospital.

A new set of national adoption and spread programmes are to be commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement for 2020-2023.

In addition to the national adoption and spread programmes, AHSNs deliver local programmes that address specific local needs and challenges within their geographies. AHSNs are also commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement to deliver National Patient Safety Improvement Programmes.

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