Responding to the NHS Long Term Plan

Key role of Health Innovation Networks to simplify pipeline for healthcare innovation

Published: 07th January 2019

With its clear emphasis on research and innovation for patient benefit, the NHS Long Term Plan published today is warmly welcomed by the Health Innovation Network.

Heralded as the blueprint to make the NHS fit for the future, the Long Term Plan highlights investment in latest technology, digital health and cutting edge treatments, coupled with early detection and a renewed focus on prevention to stop an estimated 85,000 premature deaths every year.

It also lays out plans for a more integrated, person-centred service, where health bodies come together across primary, community and mental health to provide better, joined up care in partnership with local government.

The role of England’s 15 Health Innovation Networks – including Health Innovation East – in spreading proven healthcare innovations is given a renewed vote of confidence in the Long Term Plan.

Health Innovation Networks will also link ever more closely with other regional support, such as Rightcare and Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT), to ensure adoption of innovation and service improvement are addressed in tandem.

Simpler innovation system

The Long Term Plan announces the introduction of a simpler, clearer innovation system with a key role for Health Innovation Networks. This will help to speed up the pipeline for developing innovations in the NHS, so that proven and affordable innovations get to patients faster. Supported by the Health Innovation Network’s Innovation Exchange, this will include a new advisory service for healthcare innovators.

This focus on supporting innovators will also continue through successful initiatives such as the Clinical Entrepreneurs programme and the NHS Innovation Accelerator, delivered in partnership with the Health Innovation Networks. Through a major expansion, these will include those seeking to drive quality improvement through non-commercial models.

Preventing AF-related strokes

The Health Innovation Networks’ ground-breaking work to prevent strokes in people with atrial fibrillation (AF) is given a boost in the Long Term Plan with the announcement of a package of activity to improve anticoagulation rates. Pharmacists and nurses in primary care networks will be supported to case find and treat people with high-risk conditions.

The Health Innovation Networks will support this work using the Virtual Clinics model tested by HIN in South London, targeting people with AF on GP registers who are not receiving anticoagulation therapy.

Chair of the Health Innovation Network, Dr Séamus O’Neill said: “The Health Innovation Networks are extremely pleased to see that innovation is a key thread running through the NHS Long Term Plan, and are encouraged to see a real sense of urgency in simplifying the innovation pipeline, with the Health Innovation Network at the heart of this.

“Our shared ambition with the NHS is to ensure high-quality, evidence-based solutions are put to work for patient benefit as quickly as possible enabling prevention of ill-health, earlier diagnosis, more effective treatments, better outcomes and faster recovery.

“We are also pleased to see recognition in the Long Term Plan for the contribution research and innovation make to the UK economy, along with a commitment to back the government’s recently announced Life Sciences Sector Deal, in which the Health Innovation Network is a key player.

“In the last year, we have engaged collectively with 1,173 companies, leading to 86 long-term strategic partnerships for those companies with the NHS. We will continue to broker these interactions as they are essential for both the development of new treatments and pathways and to maintaining a healthy life sciences sector.

“The Long Term Plan places a strong emphasis on real world testing for new innovations, which the Health Innovation Networks have long encouraged. We look forward to supporting the NHS infrastructure for real world testing, particularly through the expansion of the NHS England ‘Test Beds’ into regional Test Bed Clusters.”

Next steps

Following today’s publication of the NHS Long Term Plan, Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) and Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), which are groups of local NHS organisations working together with each other, local councils and other partners, now need to develop and implement their own strategies for the next five years.

Health Innovation Networks are embedded in these regional health and care communities and will play a key role to support partners in developing these regional strategies, particular in supporting the spread and adoption of proven innovation for patient benefit.

Read the full NHS Long Term Plan.

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