Responding to the NHS Long Term Plan

The recently published (7 January 2019) NHS Long Term Plan placed a focus on giving patients better access to healthcare through the wider adoption of technology, notably in digital.  It also placed an emphasis on improving the treatment of major health conditions, notably increasing cancer survival rates.  Specifically, the plan references new diagnostics to detect cancer earlier and widening access to innovative therapies such as genomics.  In general, the Plan has a wider focus on innovation than has been seen in previous NHS plans. It references the key role of the AHSNs in speeding up the pipeline for developing innovations in the NHS, so that proven and affordable innovations get to patients faster.  Much of this is consistent with work that we at Eastern AHSN are already progressing.  Below we summarise some of our most important work and how it links to the Plan.  We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you, in particular how we can act more formally as the broker for introducing exciting innovations more widely across your region.

You can also read the AHSN Network’s national response to the Long Term Plan.

Better care for major health conditions

“Cancer survival is the highest it’s ever been and thousands more people now survive cancer every year.” (Chapter 3)

The NHS Long Term Plan sets a new ambition that by 2028 the proportion of cancers diagnosed at stages 1 and 2 will rise from around half to three quarters.  Eastern AHSN is running an Innovation Exchange programme that supports this ambition by identifying innovations in early cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment, with the aim of choosing some promising innovations that we can test in a real world setting within the Eastern region.  Register for our Innovation Event on 19 March to take part.

Find out more about our cancer work including a market assessment of cancer innovations and a report on managing surges in demand on our Health InnX East website.

Contact: Victoria Corbishley, Director of Transformation


Health Informatics & Research

“Patients benefit enormously from research and innovation, with breakthroughs enabling prevention of ill-health, earlier diagnosis, more effective treatments, better outcomes and faster recovery.” (Chapter 3)

The Long Term Plan is aligned to the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy; both drive home just how critical it is that the NHS, academia and industry work together to support research and innovation, underpinned by data assets and infrastructure.

We are privileged to be at the heart of the UK’s pre-eminent region for health and life sciences research and innovation and will be making more of this in our future work. We have set up a programme board with NHS, academic and industry partners across the East of England to establish a Digital Innovation Hub for the UK.  We are also working closely with Cambridge University Health Partners (CUHP); taking a lead role supporting pioneering projects to link and correlate genomics and clinical data.  We will share learning and experience to support similar or related programmes, partners and initiatives as our programmes develop.

Contact: Mark Avery, Director of Health Informatics


Local Health and Care Records (LHCRs)

“Digitally-enabled care will go mainstream across the NHS” (Chapter 5)

The NHS Long Term plan highlights technology as key to delivering on its ambitions.  It sets out a national timetable for integrated patient records (across GPs, hospitals, community services and social care) to be made available to patients to support self-care, to staff for direct care and to drive improvements in planning and delivery of services based on the analysis of patient and population data.

Eastern AHSN took the initial lead to establish the Eastern Region LHCR programme a year ago and we will continue to support all six East of England STPs as this transitions to an STP-led model in 2019-20.  We will:

ˑ Continue to support the East Accord Digital Leads Network

ˑ Support Suffolk & North East Essex STP as the coordinating STP for the regional LHCR programme, leading on specific projects or proposals

ˑ Support individual STPs in areas such as; strategy, options appraisal, provider selection, digital maturity assessments etc.

We see this work as core to our function of spreading innovations  at scale across our region and enabling our NHS and care organisations to work together more effectively.

Contact: Mark Avery, Director of Health Informatics


Fundamental redesign of Outpatients

“The NHS will move to a new service model in which patients get more options, better support and properly joined-up care at the right time in the optimal care setting.” (Chapter 1)

Medic BleepThe Long Term Plan includes an ambition to redesign services so that over the next five years patients will be able to avoid up to a third of face to face outpatient visits, removing the need for up to 30 million outpatient visits a year.  We have reviewed published evidence to identify what interventions work and for which cohort of patients.  The report identified that as well as digital outpatient services, the use of group-based appointments, paper clinics and patient led demand have been effective for some patient groups.  We would be pleased to connect you with some of the innovators who are working in this area.

Contact: Victoria Corbishley, Director of Transformation


Quality Improvement (QI)

“Systematic methods of Quality Improvement provide an evidence-based approach for improving every aspect of how the NHS operates.” (Chapter 7)

QI skills can be utilised to improve quality, deliver performance improvement and implement innovation in an organisation. QI is also an ‘outstanding’ characteristic for each domain in the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) Key Lines of Enquiry and is strongly supported in several other recent publications including from the CQC, The King’s Fund and NHS Improvement.

We provide QI training at a Foundation and Masterclass level. The Foundations of QI Programme has been running for two years and has trained over of 400 NHS staff from the Eastern region on improvement methods, tools and techniques and how to apply them. In a survey 93% of delegates (Dec 2017 to January 2019) said that the training would influence their practice going forward.

We also offer a “train the trainer” programme for organisations looking to build internal capability for QI.  Top up masterclasses can be provided on specialist subjects like measurement for improvement and statistical process control (SPC), human factors and teaching and coaching skills. Many of you will be aware of the Patient Safety Collaborative work that we lead across the region in areas such as maternity/neonatal and patient deterioration.  Please contact us to understand how we can also support you with QI training, which is an additional offer where we are starting to see considerable take-up.

Contact: Caroline Angel, Director, Patient Safety


Leadership and Organisational Development

“Great quality care needs great leadership at all levels” (Chapter 4).

We will continue to work with our local STPs to help sustain the necessary leadership cultures for the big service changes set out in the Long Term Plan.  We will deliver a number of key leadership and organisational development programmes in partnership with Health Education England and the East of England Leadership Academy.  We will also continue to nurture some of our most promising regional leaders through the Medical Directors Masterclasses, Clinical Entrepreneur Forums and Innovation Scouts network to support the pipeline of leaders and to embed cultures of compassion, inclusion, and collaboration across the NHS.

We would welcome an opportunity to discuss your organisational development needs and to update you on the delivery of the programme which is currently being delivered across four of the regions STPs.

Contact Helen Oliver, Senior Programme Director


Adoption and Spread

The Long Term Plan sets out its ambitions to improve care quality and outcomes through the spread of best practice for major health conditions, planned care and in children and young people’s services.  As part of the AHSN network, one of our core activities is to support the roll-out of seven evidence-based programmes which are being supported by all AHSNs nationally.  Find out more about how these programmes are already benefiting patients and citizens in our region.

Contact Stacie Coburn, Chief Operating Officer


For examples of the range of benefits accruing to companies by working with the AHSNs to access the expertise and opportunities within the NHS, take a look at this recent publication on our work to support economic growth.

And for examples of proven innovations supported and spread by AHSNs, please visit

© Eastern AHSN