Monday 5 July marks the NHS 73rd birthday. The day before, (4 July), is the national Thank You Day, and we’re using this as an opportunity to recognise AHSN colleagues, partners and innovators for all their hard work, dedication and commitment to support the NHS response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
We wish we could thank everyone individually, but below are just some of the amazing stories from our colleagues across the Network.
Kavitha’s leadership helped deliver over 1 million vaccinations in record time.
Kavitha Saravanakumar, Associate Director of Business Intelligence at North West London Health and Care Partnership, led a team to deliver pioneering work in preparation for the vaccination programme when it launched in December 2020.
Kavitha and the team built a coronavirus vaccination dashboard, which was made accessible for both NHS and local authority professionals. This allowed North West London to better understand vaccine requirement and uptake, informing actions that were pivotal for the success of the vaccination programme ahead of many other regions. These included: planning of engagement events and pop-ups in areas of low uptake; analysing disparities in uptake by sex, ethnicity, and deprivation; development and evaluation of specific interventions, such as call centres; and, the development of behavioural science-informed text and letter trials to improve uptake.
As a result of her pioneering leadership, the programme, which was supported by Imperial College Health Partners (ICHP), helped to deliver over 1 million vaccinations in record time.
Dr Axel Heitmueller, Managing Director, ICHP said: “Kavitha has done an absolutely fantastic job in preparing our entire sector for the vaccination programme, enabling North West London to take an evidence-based approach to tackle vaccine inequity. Her pioneering leadership helped all of our vaccination efforts in advance of the data tools that were available nationally. We feel hugely grateful to have been able to support her and others in this vital work.”
Charlotte assisted with the work of 33 local vaccination services, and in her spare time, she joined the Sussex Community staff bank to deliver vaccinations.
In April 2020, Charlotte Roberts, Senior Programme Manager at Kent Surrey Sussex AHSN supported the national coronavirus testing team, managing commercial relationships and newly procured emergency contracts and led distribution of tests. This included: managing the relationship with pathology networks across England and in the devolved nations, allocating limited supply, understanding future manufacturing/scale-up capacity and contributing to UK strategy to increase testing capacity.
During January-February 2021, Charlotte joined the Sussex Health and Care Partnership Vaccination programme as an interim lead within the CCG, supporting primary care. She assisted with the work of 33 local vaccination services across 39 Primary Care Networks, six hospital hub sites and four mass vaccination centres. The programme created and implemented a housebound vaccination strategy within just two weeks. And in her spare time, Charlotte joined the Sussex Community staff bank to deliver vaccinations.
Des Holden, Medical Director, Kent Surrey Sussex AHSN said: “Although many staff helped the system effort, Charlotte brought energy, empathy and discipline to the teams she joined. Her generosity of agenda got the needed results and created a foundation that will enable our national programmes to be delivered more easily and more completely. Inspirational as ever.”
On the frontline
Tara put her clinical background into frontline action, caring for coronavirus patients. After returning to her AHSN role, she then helped lead the roll out of remote monitoring and telehealth to more than 200 care homes.
As the coronavirus pandemic put a strain on staffing across the NHS in spring 2020, Tara Marshall, Clinical Lead for Deterioration at Eastern AHSN, put her clinical background into frontline action, voluntarily returning to support her local intensive care unit (ICU) as a nurse. This included long shifts in PPE supporting coronavirus patients, and helping them communicate with relatives via video calls on the ward. She wrote a blog sharing her reflections on her time back on the ICU.
Tara then returned to her role at Eastern AHSN to lead the roll out of remote monitoring and telehealth of the Whzan Blue Box. This was rolled out in more than 200 care homes in the region during 2020/21. This all-in-one box of equipment helps staff conduct clinical assessments and communicate the results to healthcare professionals. This means early signs of decline are flagged before an illness worsens and GPs can effectively conduct virtual rounds to support decision-making to refer patients for further clinical care, such as hospitalisation.
Caroline Angel, Director of Patient Safety, Eastern AHSN said: “Tara’s passion to do the right thing for patients, residents and health and social care colleagues is paramount. This is evidenced through her return to ICU during the pandemic alongside her tireless work to roll out remote monitoring solutions to care homes across a regional footprint.”
Katie helped launch the Safe Tracheostomy Care programme, which was adopted by 192 acute sites.
Katie Whittle, Senior Programme Manager at the Innovation Agency, the AHSN for the North West Coast, dedicated a huge amount of time to delivering an urgently needed patient safety programme to help staff caring for patients with tracheostomies, locally and nationally.
Her personal drive and enthusiasm to help frontline colleagues meant she was working over and above the expectations of her role and often at weekends, throughout the first year of the pandemic.
She co-led the development of the national tracheostomy safety improvement programme, alongside colleagues from Health Innovation Manchester and the National Patient Safety Improvement team. This included producing a toolkit to support frontline workers, in collaboration with Dr Brendan McGrath, Clinical Lead for the National Tracheostomy Safety Project.
In just two weeks the national Safe Tracheostomy Care programme was launched, of which the key safety interventions would go on to be adopted by 192 acute sites in critical care units, cohort wards and temporary critical care areas.
Andrew Cooper, Clinical Director, Innovation Agency said: “Katie stepped up to help deliver a massive programme of work at speed when it was urgently needed due to the increasing number of patients with coronavirus.
“She was driven by a passion and motivation to improve care for patients and support colleagues on the frontline; our team is very proud of her.”
Dawn advocated for TytoCare, a handheld medical device that can be used remotely to diagnose a range of acute conditions and reduce hospital admissions, to be spread and adopted across Yorkshire and the Humber.
In Yorkshire and the Humber, TytoCare was first piloted at Bradford Teaching Hospitals Trust in 2019. The initial pilot involved 16 children between six weeks and 16 years old and compared a traditional clinical examination with use of the TytoCare device. Findings showed that the device allowed clinicians to identify the same clinical findings remotely as they had done face-to-face.
In spring 2020, the pandemic changed the focus of the next phase of the pilot. Instead of focusing on streaming between primary and secondary care, the focus was on two groups of children and young people who needed frequent support from the multi-disciplinary team at the hospital, but who were also more at risk of severe illness with a coronavirus infection.
The device reduced the need for doctors to travel between sites, as well as reducing the number of home visits. Families were also given the device, and this enabled children to have access to a variety of healthcare services in the comfort of their own home, such as regular physiotherapy, which is an essential part of care for patients with chronic lung problems.
Yorkshire & Humber AHSN have been working closely with the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership (WYHP) to deliver an ambitious digital implementation of TytoCare across Yorkshire and the Humber. This is part of NHSx’s Joined Up Care Programme which is set up to accelerate the uptake of digital innovations to transform patient care by supporting the use of remote technology to reduce hospital admissions. Dawn Greaves, Digital Programme Manager at the WYHP and West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts supported implementation of TytoCare, and was instrumental in bringing clinicians and transformation teams from across the integrated care system to gain interest and participation in this programme. The Yorkshire & Humber AHSN now have around 20 different projects in WYHP which will improve care for patients in a diverse range of settings, from children to older people.
Kate Lodge, Head of Strategic partnerships, Yorkshire & Humber AHSN said: “Dawn’s ability to bring people together to shape this vision for better care across a broad range of settings is exceptional. She is extremely pragmatic and a great problem solver, finding ways to navigate implementation challenges effectively and always with a smile.”
Both Matt and Karen championed remote monitoring through the Oximetry @home work when coronavirus was relatively new and unknown. Their clinical leadership was instrumental in getting the work off the ground, and they worked nationally leading the spread, which was supported by Patient Safety Collaboratives.
Coronavirus has placed unprecedented demands on hospitals. A clinical service, COVID Oximetry @home (CO@h) was launched in November 2020 to support remote monitoring of coronavirus patients in the community. Remote monitoring through CO@h aims to identify early patient deterioration and provide timely escalation for cases of silent hypoxia, while reducing the burden on secondary care.
Matt Inada-Kim, Acute Medicine Consultant at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust; National Clinical Director for Infection, Antimicrobial Resistance and Deterioration and Karen Kirkham, GP and Senior Medical Advisor to the Primary Care Provider Transformation team at NHS England, supported the initial pilot sites adopting CO@h services. They led the co-ordination of the learning and encouraged NHS England to accept and adopt these services as valuable for every CCG and system across England. CO@h is supported by Patient Safety Collaboratives, which are hosted by AHSNs.
They led the national adoption and spread of the CO@h model developed in Dorset in Wave 1 to be rapidly adopted and spread with the support of the AHSN Network in response to Wave 2.
Natasha Swinscoe, Chief Executive, West of England AHSN and National Patient Safety Lead for The AHSN Network said: “Matt and Karen are incredibly generous with their time, always have the patient at the centre, are an amazing energetic force for good, are truly innovative and always champion the AHSNs’ role in our systems. Thank you from all of us!”
Russ leads on compiling and validating the national data for the annual AHSN Network’s company survey, which highlighted how we’re instrumental in generating £1 billion of UK investment.
Working with all 15 AHSNs, Russ Watkins, Commercial Director at AHSN North East North Cumbria (AHSN NENC), has diligently and carefully led this work. The figures, which feature in our 2020-2021 Impact Report, demonstrate remarkable progress in the health innovation and life sciences sectors and our contribution to the UK economy.
Nic Hutchinson, CEO, AHSN NENC said: “Russ works tirelessly on difficult projects that have a big impact on the Network and what we are trying to achieve. He is always willing to help and advise, and stays honest and down to earth – a pleasure to work with.”
The East Midlands AHSN Health Analytics and Informatics team provided intensive analytical support to the NHS England & Improvement Midlands regional team to facilitate important decision making.
The team produced and presented hundreds of charts every week to inform decisions made by NHS England & Improvement Midlands regional team and the regional Safety Cell during the pandemic.
The AHSN has continued to support the regional team, working across the Midlands to collate, analyse and present timely information from the health and care systems to facilitate decision making relating to the pandemic and restoring services.
The team also organised four cohorts of the Information Analysts’ Development Programme to build capacity in the region. In 2021/22, 48 Analysts working in health and care from across the region will benefit from this 11 day programme. A local ICS has also funded the course for two more cohorts.
Nicole McGlennon, Managing Director, East Midlands AHSN said: “The team did an amazing job, taking on this additional role at short notice while working from home themselves. The bespoke support they provided to the regional team, ICSs and providers during coronavirus enabled our health and care systems to use the data to improve systems and processes.”