NHS England has increased the funding it provides to Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), with the aim of enabling them to further spread innovation within the NHS.

At the latest NHS England board meeting in May, members were presented with a report which looked into the 15 AHSNs.

The networks are tasked with supporting the spread of innovation across the NHS and are said to have already enabled the spread of 200 innovations since they were introduced in 2013.

Each AHSN works across a distinct geography serving a different population in each region.

NHS England “publicly committed to relicensing the 15 AHSNs” in July 2017 and the latest report sets out its approach to this new stage.

The papers reveal NHS England has “re-focused” the main objects of the networks.

These new objectives are:

  • Improving the uptake of innovation at pace and scale
  • Supporting local transformation

The papers also reveal that, in January 2018, NHS England’s Investment Committee agreed AHSN funding will be increased to £44.2m in 2018/19 and £44.4m in 2019/20.

The next steps will be for a new contract to be issued in June 2018 which will commence in October 2018.

The papers state: “They [AHSNs] are committed to playing an increasingly impactful role in fostering a rich innovation pipeline which develops products and pathways that meet the NHS’s most pressing needs and have rigorous evidence of efficacy and financial impact; and stimulating and achieving the spread of proven innovations across the nation.”

In January 2018, Digital Health News reported that a study commissioned by the AHSN Network suggested fragmentation within the NHS and a lack of resources are stopping the spread of innovation.