Back to list page

AHSNs partnership with ICSs ‘integral’ says Hewitt Review

Posted: 14th April 2023

The West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire Innovation Hubs have been referenced in the Hewitt Review of integrated care systems (ICSs) as an example of good practice.

The hubs, which work as a single point of contact for integrated care systems, improve the process of highlighting innovation opportunities to ICSs in our region and allows them to allocate funding and capacity to the innovation opportunities which are likely to have the greatest impact across the system as a whole.

The review states “embedding an AHSN to deliver an innovation hub for an ICB provides the right expertise for the system”. Being embedded into the ICS allows for us to be aligned with local strategic priorities in order to spread and adopt good practice innovation that meets the needs of the population at scale. Cross-sector working is easily facilitated by the expertise of the AHSNs and the relationships they hold, aiding ICS partnership with academia and industry to help develop innovative solutions.

“As care pathways are transformed across systems, it is essential that ICSs build a culture of importing and exporting “what works”, and that they innovate and transform in partnership with academia and industry. Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) should be seen as integral to that ambition, with ICBs ensuring that their AHSNs are aligned with local strategic priorities in order that best practice that meets the needs of their populations can be spread and adopted at pace and at scale.”

In addition to focusing locally, we also work nationally to spread knowledge and expertise across the 15 AHSNs and the national AHSN Network. This avoids duplication and ensures that no one region needs to reinvent the wheel on a local scale. It also enables each ICS to be cost-effective whilst also contributing to the wider system infrastructure by sharing innovations across a wider pool.

Hewitt also reaffirms the direction of some of our other work. Last year we worked with Care Quality Commission (CQC) on a project which sought to ensure that CQC’s regulatory approach could better recognise and promote innovation within primary care to tackle health inequalities.  As part of this work, we made several best practice recommendations around how innovation should be captured and supported to scale across systems, helping to ensure the best innovations are allowed to flourish and generate the greatest impact.

We’re pleased to see many of our recommendations born from this joint project reflected in the Hewitt Review and we look forward to continuing to support the ICSs in our region with innovation and transformation using our expertise and skills to implement best practice for the spread and adoption of innovation.

David Crichton, Chief Medical Officer, NHS South Yorkshire Integrated Care Board and local GP said:

“We are delighted to be recognised for our strong partnership working with the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN).

The innovation hub enables us to work together to make the most of advancements in technology for the benefit of our citizens across health and care.

We continue to develop our South Yorkshire innovation and research strategy alongside local partners from academia and industry to further develop opportunities”.

Rob Webster CBE, CEO West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board and CEO Lead for West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership said:

“Innovation is of critical importance to both the health and care system and our economy in West Yorkshire.

The unique assets we have at our disposal and the opportunities these offer to improve the lives of our population cannot be underestimated. The hubs help us by connecting these assets to achieve these ambitions. In doing so, we can improve our health and our overall wealth”.

Richard Stubbs, Chief Executive of Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network said:

“We’re pleased to see collaborative working between ICSs and AHSNs featured as a key recommendation of the Hewitt review, recognising our role as an enabler for innovation and transformation.

Our priority has always been to forge strong partnerships with the three ICSs in our region and we have developed a unique approach to this via our Innovation Hub model.

This approach allows us to be embedded within ICS structures, helping us gain a deep understanding of needs and priorities right across our health and care systems. Through working collaboratively via the Hubs, we can quickly adapt and respond, enabling us to work together and implement innovations that help tackle the needs and critical challenges facing our region”.

Read the Hewitt review in full.

Access the case studies from The Accelerated Access Collaborative on how AHSNs are supporting their local ICSs.