England’s 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) has responded at scale to support the national COVID-19 effort.

Each AHSN works within its regional health systems to spread innovation, whilst also operating as a connected national Network. This ability to respond locally, and collaborate across England to enable rapid transformative change, enabled the AHSN Network to immediately realign its resources to the COVID-19 response.

Regionally the AHSNs bespoke approach focuses on providing expertise to its NHS regions, identifying technologies to assist health organisations manage their response, helping source PPE, driving the digitisation of primary care and supporting care homes.

The contribution from AHSNs has been outstanding with all 15 supporting or deploying team members to assist the rapid rollout of digital primary care, supporting NHS England and Improvement, NHSX and NHS Digital to achieve a near-total uptake of video and online consultation technologies in only two months across GP practices in England.

The AHSN Network has also worked at scale to support the safety of patients, care home residents and clinical staff through providing training resources to care homes and supporting local PPE procurement initiatives. Whilst many staff have gone back to support the NHS in managerial or clinical roles.

Read our first monthly report, Supporting the health and care system respond to COVID-19: a snapshot summary of AHSN activity, to find out more about how the AHSN Network has responded to COVID-19 to date.

Looking to the future, the AHSN Network is partnering with the NHS Confederation and the Health Foundation on the NHS Reset campaign. Find out more about the importance of the partnership from Yorkshire and Humber AHSN CEO, Richard Stubbs, in his latest blog on NHS Voices.

Do you have an innovation to support the COVID-19 response?

If you have a healthcare innovation that could support the COVID-19 response and would like advice on immediate or future needs, and how best to present your offer to local and/ or national commissioners, please contact the commercial team at your local AHSN via the AHSN Network Innovation Exchange or register online. Use the postcode checker to help you find your local AHSN.

The government has provided national guidance on where to register products to support the COVID-19 response. Please find these details below.

PPE (Personal Protection Equipment)

Contact the Surgical MedTech Co-operative (one of NIHR’s Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives) if you have a technology that could be adapted quickly for the healthcare setting to help protect healthcare workers against aerosol contamination. Find out more about their ‘COVID-19 PPE Challenge’ here.

Vaccines

Contact Public Health England: nervtag@phe.gov.uk

Ventilators

Contact the Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS): ventilator.support@beis.gov.uk or call 0300 456 3565

Innovation and Tech

Contact NHSX: DNHSX@nhsx.nhs.uk

Diagnostics

Contact Public Health England: coviddiagnostics@phe.gov.uk

General

The UK government has set up a service allowing businesses to share any support that might help the COVID-19 response, from PPE and medical testing equipment to transport/logistics and warehouse space. Find out more here.

If you have any other solutions (not specifically COVID-19 related) that could be useful to the health and care system during this unprecedented time, you can access AHSN advice and support by visiting www.ahsninnovationexchange.co.uk.

 Regional AHSN support

During this current period of extreme operational pressure, the AHSNs will be supporting our colleagues on the frontline and in planning and operations by offering the most appropriate assistance as and when required. This will include supporting the implementation of technology to maximise the use of remote consultations and online guidance, freeing up valuable clinician time and reducing the risk of transmission.

We are working closely with our regional NHS teams to coordinate this support, but if you would like to speak to your local AHSN team, please do get in touch. You can find our contact details here using our postcode checker.

If you have any other query or request for support, get in touch with us at info@ahsnnetwork.com.