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NHS and Government back AHSNs to continue to lead innovation, under new name

Posted: 26th May 2023

We are pleased to hear that the Government and NHS England has today confirmed its intention to relicense England’s 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) for a third five-year licence.

Following yesterday’s (25 May) Life Sciences Council meeting, it was formally announced today that NHS England would commission AHSNs as Health Innovation Networks for a further five years until 2028 to better reflect their key role in supporting development and spread of innovation across health services.

Locally the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN works alongside NHS colleagues, academia and innovators to support the spread of all types of innovation within the NHS, from new technologies to ways of working and service improvements. Under the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department of Science, Innovation and Technologies’ joint commission – the Office for Life Sciences (OLS) – we also provide bespoke support to innovators to accelerate promising innovations from development to adoption, and boost economic growth.

Richard Stubbs, CEO of Yorkshire & Humber AHSN and Vice Chair of the AHSN Network commented:

“The relicensing is a testament to the impact of our collective work over the past 10 years. We will continue to drive local innovation and transformation working closely with our Integrated Care Boards.

Our priority has always been to forge strong partnerships with the three Integrated Care Systems in our region and we have developed a unique approach to this via our Innovation Hub model which was included as an exemplar of best practice in the Hewitt Report and in the NHS Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) case study.

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 challenges facing our region”.

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

“We are delighted to hear about the relicensing of the Academic Health Science Networks. Our strong partnership working with the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) through the South Yorkshire Innovation Hub is critical to help the spread and adoption of innovations that reflect the diversity and meet the needs of our local populations and health care challenges.

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:

“We work closely with the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN on a number of important developments in mental health, cardiovascular disease, cancer and using technology to improve care. Our innovation hub ensures that innovators and researchers can work with us in a more straightforward way. Ultimately this means together we can improve health outcomes for people and boost the local economy, where life sciences play such a major part”.

Dr Nigel Wells, Executive Director, Clinical and Care Professional NHS Humber & North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership said:

“Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership collaborate closely with Yorkshire & Humber AHSN on a broad range of innovation projects. We have a strong track record of developing and supporting new innovations in our region that have subsequently spread across the country and we have also been quick to adopt proven innovations from other areas when it is clear they can help us to meet the health needs and outcomes of our patients and local populations.

We welcome the announcement that AHSNs will be licensed for a new five-year period as it will ensure continuity and momentum can be maintained on existing projects and that we can continue to collaborate on new innovation projects that will make a difference to the people of our region.”

The new licence will come into effect from 1 October 2023. More information about the roll out of the new licence, priority programmes and collaboration with NHS England and the Office for Life Sciences, will follow during the summer.

Below are some examples that illustrate how we have already supported the spread and adoption of innovation in our region and beyond:

We initially helped with the rollout of a pilot in Leeds to test their smartphone-based urinalysis device. has developed a solution that supports early identification of chronic kidney disease, a deteriorating long-term condition, by enabling more patients to complete a test in the comfort of their own home. Following on from this successful initial pilot, the service has now been adopted by more than 1,200 surgeries across England benefiting more than 350,700 patients.


We have played an instrumental role in SENTINEL PLUS becoming part of the regional AAC Rapid Uptake Products programme and expanding its implementation beyond our region. SENTINEL PLUS is an award-winning programme that helps to improve asthma care by reducing the reliance on blue inhalers and their environmental impact. There are now 305 Primary Care Networks signed up to SENTINEL PLUS throughout England. In our region alone prescriptions of blue inhalers have been reduced by 44,275 saving over 1,240 metric tonnes of eCo2 emissions in the process.


An example of our work to stimulate regional investment is our digital health accelerator programme Propel@YH which supports SMEs to further develop and spread their innovations. Building on its success over the past four years, we have now introduced international Propel Boot Camps, a five-day version of the digital health accelerator course which encourages overseas countries looking to grow in the UK to invest in our region.

Remote monitoring and Virtual Wards

Over the past two years we have supported the pilot and implementation of remote monitoring and virtual wards solutions across more than 100 sites benefitting 4,289 patients and saving the NHS costs associated with the avoided visits.

Our experience on this programme gave us a great insight into and understanding of virtual wards and remote monitoring, the benefits they can provide, the common challenges and risks, how to best approach implementation and how to ensure sustainability for the future. We were keen to share this learning with our colleagues in the ICBs to support them with their ambitions around virtual wards and remote monitoring. Over the past year, we have created and shared a suite of resources encompassing our practical lessons learnt and top tips in a series structured around the five main stages of implementation:  Start, Engage, Deliver, Embed, Sustain.