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Working together for the benefits of patients, carers and families across Yorkshire and the Humber

Written by: Kathy Scott - 29th July 2022

The publication of our yearly Impact Report offers an opportunity to stop and look at what we have achieved together with our partners in the past year.

A year might not seem long, but every time our Impact Report is published it brings home to me how our initiatives and programmes have helped to improve patients’ lives and bring new investments into Yorkshire and the Humber.

Our work is so wide ranging that it can be a struggle to describe what we do, but often (to me at least) it feels like a painting made up of many dots which individually stand alone, but also join to make a cohesive whole (Wikipedia tells me this is known as the ‘pointillist technique’ and the most famous example is the Seurat painting, ‘A Sunday Afternoon on the  Island of La Grande Jatte’).

Fundamentally we connect people and organisations to support the development and delivery of new technologies, services and ways of working, and we also support local economic growth through collaboration with our Local Enterprise Partnerships, and organisations such as Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI) or Department of International Trade.

All these collaborations help identify solutions that can benefit our patients and support healthcare systems to address some of the most pressing challenges such as the increasing patient backlog; health inequalities; improving equality, diversity and inclusion and acting against climate change.

Innovation Hubs – a unique model to support the needs of our Integrated Care Systems

Over the last four years, our priority has been to forge strong partnerships with the three ICSs in our region and we have taken a unique approach through the development of our Innovation Hubs. Our South Yorkshire Innovation Hub has now been established for three years and this year we launched a new Innovation Hub for West Yorkshire, tailored to meet their needs and priorities. We are also continuing our effective relationships within with Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership.

This model of working embeds AHSN staff into the core of health and care delivery in our region, enabling us to gain a deep understanding of needs right across our health and care systems at every level.

The Innovation Hubs role is to explore innovative solutions which test out new ideas in practice. For instance, in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw it was recognised that the management of respiratory diseases for urgent and emergency care services was under increased pressure. The use of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques helped respiratory patients to reduce their anxiety and therefore anxiety-triggered exacerbations, resulting in fewer visits to urgent and emergency care.

The impact of our work

When evaluating the success of a project we often focus on numbers: how many patients have accessed a service; how many hours of care have been provided; what savings have been achieved, but, to me, the only measure that really matters is how we helped improve someone’s quality of life by improving their care outcomes and experience, understanding their personal circumstances.

For example, we know how important it is for patients and carers to be able to access services in a way that suits them. A great example of this is our work with innovators and the NHS to implement new technologies that can support remote patient monitoring, cutting unnecessary travel and providing more choice, particularly for patients with long-term conditions who need ongoing support and care.

In Harrogate, a little girl with chronic asthma had regular face-to-face outpatient appointments. When the child’s mother had a medical procedure and was unable to take her daughter to clinic, they were given a TytoCare handheld remote monitoring device allowing her to record the child’s condition at home. Thanks to this device, a respiratory nurse was alerted to early signs of worsening allowing timely care and advice remotely, while avoiding the need for the child to be taken to A&E and a huge amount of angst and hassle for both mother and child.

Another great example is our First Episode Rapid Early Intervention for Eating Disorders programme (FREED). This innovative pathway aims to shorten the time that young people (aged 16-25) with eating disorders go untreated. Getting earlier treatment is likely to increase the likelihood of recovery. Eating disorders are a significant mental health issue and cause so much anguish to people and their families, so I’m really pleased we’ve been able to support this innovation and make a difference to people’s lives.

Supporting the NHS to achieve their Net Zero target

I am especially proud of our work to support the NHS’ Net Zero targets to reduce the environmental impact of healthcare services. For example, in Hull we are working with the NHS and AstraZeneca on the SENTINEL programme which aims to improve care for thousands of people with uncontrolled asthma.  By adjusting how patients’ anti-inflammatory ‘preventer’ inhalers are used and reducing the reliance on and prescribing of blue ‘reliever’ inhalers, the greenhouse gas emission produced by these inhalers can be reduced.

Data from Nov 2020 to April 2022 revealed that 2,948 patients have been reviewed in Hull and East Riding with a reduction in the use of blue inhaler of nearly 26,000 units. In simple terms this has prevented as much carbon being released into the atmosphere as an estimated 907 flights from Leeds to New York.

This is not only of great benefit for the environment, but it means better care outcomes for thousands of asthmatic patients.

Helping to ‘join the dots’

As previously mentioned, while our work takes us in different directions, ultimately our role is to help connect ‘the dots’ and build true partnerships between health care providers, commissioners, academia and industry to support our NHS partners and ensure patients across our region receive the best possible care.

I’d like to thank all our colleagues and partners for their continued support. Our achievements are only possible together and collaboration is key to realize effective healthcare transformation.

If you would like to find out more about our work and how we can support your organisation, take a look at our latest Impact Report.