In 2019, all 15 AHSNs signed up to a set of pledges to ensure equality, diversity and inclusion is at the heart of all that we do as a Network.
Since then, all AHSNs have undertaken work to live these pledges. Nationally this work has been supported by a group of volunteers from across the Network, who come together to share best practice.
The AHSN Network has recently published a report which summarises some of the projects that AHSNs have been undertaking in this space, along with some useful learnings.
Our CEO and Vice Chair of the AHSN Network, Richard Stubbs, who initiated and leads on this agenda, said: “Diversity is crucial in ensuring that we transform the NHS in ways that support all our staff and citizens. Diversity of thought, experience and knowledge drives better innovation. But if we want to support this critical agenda, it’s important that as a Network we embrace this challenge and work with our partners and innovators to help design and implement solutions that advance social change and promote a fair and inclusive society.
“By working together with our NHS partners, government, and our innovation and life sciences industries we can support programmes and initiatives that are centred around the community we serve and are diverse, inclusive and accessible to all helping to tackle health inequalities”.
An example of this is our work with Dr Llinos Jones, respiratory consultant at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which helps to improve asthma care for seldom heard communities. We partnered with the NHS England Accelerated Access Collaborative to release some Pathway Transformation Funding to improve the rates of asthma diagnosis and management within non-English speaking populations in the region.
Amongst minority communities, there is still a high prevalence of asthma cases that are inadequately treated. For many, English is not their first language, and it is important to ensure patients have access to information in a number of different languages. There are still many myths and misconceptions surrounding asthma such as the belief that it is infectious, or that it is a psychological disease. The initiative also produced a heatmap that made it easier to identify the interdependencies of ethnicity, literacy, and respiratory health. We continue to work with the wider asthma network to identify opportunities to support asthma management for underserved populations.
Read the report to find out more about other case studies across the wider AHSN Network. We’ve made lots of progress since 2019, but we want to continue to learn and develop. We’re inviting our partners from the wider UK innovation and research communities to join us in this movement.
Alongside the report, we’ve launched a refreshed set of diversity, equality, and inclusion pledges. We wanted our pledges to be less-AHSN specific with the intention of being adoptable and adaptable by any organisation that wishes to implement them. Equality diversity and inclusion is fundamental to our core values, ensuring a positive and supportive culture, where all staff and communities feel empowered and respected. Empowering and supporting our staff to be positive role models is essential to reach our collective ambition. Our work aims to benefit all communities and reduce health inequalities, supporting the NHS’ Core20PLUS5 and other equality initiatives.