UCL News


UCLPartners gets the green light to improve the healthcare of over six million people

23 May 2013

Millions of people in London and the south east will see improvements to their healthcare following the decision by NHS England to designate UCLPartners as an Academic Health Science Network (AHSN).


The AHSNs will enable academics, healthcare professionals and industry to work together to speed up delivery of cutting-edge medical research into routine practice in the NHS; lives will be saved and the UK economy will be stimulated as inventors and industry join forces to develop new medical technologies for the benefit of patients.

UCLPartners is the only AHSN that is already delivering quality improvements to healthcare at scale. It is also one of the largest in the country serving a diverse population - more than six million people in north-east and north central London, south and west Hertfordshire, south Bedfordshire and south-west and mid Essex.

"We have some of the country's leading experts within our general practices, hospitals, community health providers and universities. Together, we can achieve greater benefits than are possible when organisations or individuals work in isolation. Our ambition is to improve patient care and make better use of innovation and research to drive economic benefits for the population that we serve," said Professor David Fish, Managing Director of UCLPartners.

We have some of the country's leading experts within our general practices, hospitals, community health providers and universities. Together we can achieve greater benefits than are possible when organisations or individuals work in isolation.

David Fish, Managing Director UCLPartners

Established in 2009 as an Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC), UCLPartners created an environment for clinicians and academics working in some of the UK's leading hospitals and universities to collaborate to deliver world-class standards of clinical and academic outcomes. AHSC partners included UCL, St Bartholomew's, Great Ormond Street, Moorfields, Queen Mary University of London, the Royal Free London and University College London Hospitals.

Becoming an AHSN is a natural progression and will create an inclusive partnership drawing on the many highly skilled and committed staff throughout the whole partnership to benefit patients across parts of London, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Essex.

UCLPartners is pioneering in its approach; it is the only AHSN to fully integrate with an Academic Health Science Centre at every level of the partnership and uses a relentless patient-led, population focus model to enable delivery. Clinical and academic partners are now working collaboratively across organisational boundaries to a much greater extent than ever before, recognising the unique opportunity to achieve the best clinical outcomes for the patients.

Through a more joined up approach to healthcare, UCLPartners is already delivering direct benefits to patients and their families. One example is its partners' work to reduce cardiac arrests among patients in hospital. A network of clinicians from 15 hospitals is sharing best practice in how to identify early signs of deterioration among patients in hospital. This initiative has halved the number of cardiac arrests on wards in some hospitals.

Sue Naidoo, Nurse Consultant at North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust said: "At our trust, avoidable cardiac arrests have dropped by 45%. This is changing lives - not only of our patients, but for their families too. UCLPartners has a bold shared vision and this has been a big driver for us. The engagement we've had with other trusts and the culture of openly sharing our data has improved our confidence and made a big difference. We wouldn't have achieved half of what we've done without the collaborative working."

Another example is a partnership approach to improve the quality of care for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in outer north-east London (in the boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge and Waltham Forest). COPD is a long term condition that is underdiagnosed, has high rates of mortality and is expensive to treat.

"We saw an opportunity for primary and secondary care clinicians and academics to work together to address the well-known system failures that result in people with long-term conditions requiring rescue care and deteriorating health," said Professor Mike Roberts, Consultant Respiratory Physician at Whipps Cross University Hospital. "By implementing simple techniques to improve the quality of data about individual patients, providing mentoring and education to GPs and nurses, actively involving and listening to patients in the delivery of personalised care and working together across organisational boundaries, we were able to deliver significant benefits to more than 30,000 patients in the area with COPD."

This work resulted in a 15% reduction in visits to A&E, an increase in the use of appropriate tests to diagnose COPD and a significant improvement (60%) in the way that patients understand their condition. "With cost savings of £2 million per year in the region, we have demonstrated that it is possible to provide better clinical care, improve outcomes for patients and save money. UCLPartners inspires clinicians to achieve what they are capable of," adds Professor Mike Roberts.

UCLPartners is also working with industry to deliver cutting-edge medical research to patients across its population. Led by Professor James Hampton-Till, Director of Research at Anglia Ruskin University's Postgraduate Medical Institute, UCLPartners is driving the delivery of a complex international phase III drug trial for patients with acute heart failure in parts of London, Essex and Hertfordshire. This is a priority study for Novartis, which will run across eight acute hospitals.

Professor Hampton-Till said: "Our partnership draws together specialist expertise with detailed local knowledge and, by keeping the patient experience at the heart of what we do, can deliver high performing and scientifically important clinical trials."

UCLPartners is now building on its achievement to roll out programmes in areas that account for more than 80% of premature mortality and current healthcare spend: cancer, cardiovascular, mental health, supporting patients with multiple health issues and addressing the needs of people as they progress through life from birth to childhood and adolescence.

Sir Cyril Chantler, UCLPartners Chairman said: "As an AHSN, UCLPartners has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform lives and reduce the well-known variation in life expectancy across the population we serve. Our hospitals and universities are working in partnership across traditional boundaries with shared values to support a relentless drive for improving patient outcomes, teaching and research."


Media contact: David Weston