How Bristol Health Partners fits with other local health networks

There are a number of local health networks working alongside Bristol Health Partners, all in the business of helping researchers, practitioners, the private sector, the public and other stakeholders work effectively together to deliver better healthcare and health outcomes for people. Because of these similar goals, there is inevitably some confusion around the function of and interactions between these bodies.

There are seven health networks operating in the West, each with a different remit on the path between ideas and improving health outcomes:

  1. Avon Primary Care Research Collaborative (APCRC)
  2. Bristol Health Partners
  3. National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West (NIHR CLAHRC West)
  4. National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network: West of England (NIHR CRN: West of England)
  5. National Institute for Health Research Bristol Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR Bristol BRC)
  6. People in Health West of England
  7. West of England Academic Health Science Network

Many of these networks are new, and are all involved in improving health and care in the West of England region, through better joined-up working, making research and service changes more effective and involving the right people in improvements and research.


Academic Health Science Networks

An Academic Health Science Network is about getting innovation and new treatments and practices out into the field, to help patients. They are collaborations between the NHS and academic bodies, covering a large geographical area.

AHSNs are designated by the Department of Health. They aim to improve patient and population health outcomes by translating research into practice and developing and implementing integrated health care systems. An AHSN's core purpose is to enable the NHS and academia to work collaboratively with industry to identify, adopt and spread innovation and best practice.


Clinical Research Networks

Clinical Research Networks (CRN) are the clinical research delivery arm of the NHS. They provide the infrastructure that allows high-quality clinical research to take place in the NHS, so that patients can benefit from new and better treatments.

They help researchers to set up clinical studies quickly and effectively, support the life-sciences industry to deliver their research programmes, provide health professionals with research training, and work with patients to ensure their needs are at the centre of research activity.

At the heart of the Clinical Research Network’s activities is the NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio. This consists of high-quality clinical research studies that are eligible for consideration for support from the Clinical Research Network in England.

CRNs are part of the National Institute for Health Research.


Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care

A Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) gets the right health research done for a wide geographical area. It undertakes high-quality applied health research, focused on the needs of patients, and supports the translation of research evidence into practice in the NHS.

CLAHRCs are collaborative partnerships between a university (or universities) and the surrounding NHS organisations and local authorities, focused on improving patient outcomes and population health through the conduct and application of applied health research. They create and embed approaches to research and its dissemination that are specifically designed to take account of the way that health care is increasingly delivered across sectors and a wide geographical area.

CLAHRCs are part of the National Institute for Health Research.


Biomedical Research Centres

Formed through partnerships between England’s leading NHS organisations and universities, 20 NIHR Biomedical Research Centres conduct translational research to transform scientific breakthroughs into life-saving treatments for patients.

Staffed by expert investigators and clinicians, NIHR BRCs are leaders in translating lab-based discoveries into new cutting edge treatments, technologies, diagnostics and other interventions in clinical settings.

BRCs are part of the National Institute for Health Research.


What does each local body do?

Avon Primary Care Research Collaborative (APCRC)

The Avon Primary Care Research Collaborative (APCRC) works on behalf of three clinical commissioning groups (CCGs): Bristol CCG, North Somerset CCG and South Gloucestershire CCG. They are responsible for supporting and managing research in primary care as well as supporting commissioners to embed a culture of learning through evaluation and evidence informed commissioning. As an organisation they aim to achieve excellence in supporting research, service evaluation and the routine use of best evidence, to commission the highest quality services and deliver better outcomes for our local populations.

Avon Primary Care Research Collaborative (APCRC) website


Bristol Health Partners

Bristol Health Partners is a strategic collaboration between the city region's major health institutions, covering the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire area. These include its three NHS trusts, three clinical commissioning groups, two universities and its local authority. These organisations have formed Bristol Health Partners voluntarily, and we are funded by contributions from five of the partners.

It aims to maximise Bristol’s health research to transform the understanding, treatment and prevention of key health problems in the city region. Bristol Health Partners’ vision is for those who live in and around Bristol to enjoy the highest possible quality of life and experience of care.

Bristol Health Partners website


National Institute for Health Research Bristol Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR Bristol BRC)

The National Institute for Health Research Bristol Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR Bristol BRC) is a partnership between University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Bristol. BRCs conduct innovative translational medical science research to drive through improvements in health and healthcare, and encourage closer working with industry.

NIHR Bristol BRC brings together existing research excellence in cardiovascular and nutrition, with three new research themes of mental health, perinatal and reproductive health and surgical innovation. The research themes are underpinned by cross-cutting themes in translational population science and biostatistics, evidence synthesis and informatics.

NIHR Bristol BRC website


NIHR Clinical Research Network: West of England (NIHR CRN: West of England)

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) is the clinical research delivery arm of the NHS. CRNs operate nationally across 15 regions, delivering research in the NHS across all clinical areas. CRN: West of England helps to increase the opportunities for patients to take part in clinical research and ensure that studies are carried out efficiently and support the government’s strategy for UK life sciences by improving the environment for commercial clinical research in the NHS.

CRN: West of England works in collaboration with acute trusts, clinical commissioning groups, consortia, GP surgeries, mental health trusts and other partner organisations. It grows and progresses new initiatives, allocates resource to clinical teams and develops new approaches to existing processes. It aims to reduce the time an idea takes from bench to bedside. The NIHR Clinical Research Network: West of England is hosted by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust.

NIHR CRN West of England website


NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West (NIHR CLAHRC West)

The overall mission of NIHR CLAHRC West is to actively engage its partners in the conduct of applied health research and the implementation of research evidence to improve health and healthcare across its area. Its ethos is to focus on research and implementation that is equitable and fair, appropriate, providing optimum advice or care at the right time and place, and sustainable, taking account of resource-use and future continuation.

CLAHRC West focuses on improving the management of chronic diseases, public health interventions and population health, and mental health. It is hosted by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, acting on behalf of the collaborative partnership between local providers of NHS services and NHS commissioners, universities, local authorities and third sector and patient and user organisations, and the West of England Academic Health Science Network (WEAHSN).

National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West (NIHR CLAHRC West) website


People in Health West of England

People in Health West of England is a collaborative partnership of local organisations, supporting researchers to involve the public in health and social care research, and supporting the public to get involved. Partners include three universities, seven clinical commissioning groups, seven NHS trusts and the South West Ambulance Service NHS Trust alongside other various community health and social care organisations.

People in Health West of England have produced an infographic showing how they link with their partners and other local organisations.

People in Health West of England website


West of England Academic Health Science Network (AHSN)

The West of England Academic Health Science Network is a diverse network of partners who are working collaboratively to put innovation at the heart of healthcare, to improve patient outcomes and contribute to wealth creation. The network aims to do this by translating research into practice, and developing and implementing integrated health care services. Partners include various providers of NHS care, universities, NHS commissioners, and a wide range of other organisations.

West of England Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) website


What geographical area does each body cover?

The West of England AHSN covers:

  • Bath and North East Somerset
  • Bristol
  • Gloucestershire
  • North Somerset
  • South Gloucestershire
  • Swindon
  • Wiltshire

CLAHRC West, the CRN: West of England and People in Health West of England cover the same patch as WEAHSN, while Bristol Health Partners and APCRC cover the Bristol city region, including North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. The NIHR Bristol BRC doesn't cover a specific geographical location.

How Bristol Health Partners, CLAHRC West and WEAHSN interact

Bristol Health Partners, through its Health Integration Teams, identifies what health research is needed. CLAHRC West provides researchers and other academic professionals, to undertake that research, and they also work on other projects for other partners. West of England AHSN translates that, and other, research into practice and spreads best practice across a wide geographical area.

The relationship between these bodies should be seen as complementary, dovetailing with each other, never in competition with each other. Indeed, at a senior level, the same people are involved across two or more of the organisations, helping them work in synergy.

The diagram below shows the interrelationship between the three bodies.

Diagram showing how Bristol Health Partners, CLAHRC West and WEAHSN interrelate

The West of England AHSN is the natural vehicle for putting evidence generated by Bristol Health Partners and CLAHRC West into practice. The three organisations have jointly developed policies for research development and participation, capacity building, patient and public involvement and engagement, and support for research implementation and service improvement.

Bristol Health Partners and CLAHRC West lead on the production and integration of research and evaluation, while the West of England AHSN fosters the embedding of research and evidence in practice across the region.

The West of England AHSN also leads on wealth creation, including the interface with industry and developing a consistent approach to intellectual property, and engagement with other partnerships such as the Local Economic Partnership and Business West.

A board paper on the North Bristol NHS Trust website (PDF), explains the interactions more fully.

How Bristol Health Partners fits with other local health networks

There are a number of local health networks working alongside Bristol Health Partners, all in the business of helping researchers, practitioners, the private sector, the public and other stakeholders work effectively together to deliver better healthcare and health outcomes for people. Because of these similar goals, there is inevitably some confusion around the function of and interactions between these bodies.

There are seven health networks operating in the West, each with a different remit on the path between ideas and improving health outcomes:

  1. Avon Primary Care Research Collaborative (APCRC)
  2. Bristol Health Partners
  3. National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West (NIHR CLAHRC West)
  4. National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network: West of England (NIHR CRN: West of England)
  5. National Institute for Health Research Bristol Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR Bristol BRC)
  6. People in Health West of England
  7. West of England Academic Health Science Network

Many of these networks are new, and are all involved in improving health and care in the West of England region, through better joined-up working, making research and service changes more effective and involving the right people in improvements and research.


Academic Health Science Networks

An Academic Health Science Network is about getting innovation and new treatments and practices out into the field, to help patients. They are collaborations between the NHS and academic bodies, covering a large geographical area.

AHSNs are designated by the Department of Health. They aim to improve patient and population health outcomes by translating research into practice and developing and implementing integrated health care systems. An AHSN's core purpose is to enable the NHS and academia to work collaboratively with industry to identify, adopt and spread innovation and best practice.


Clinical Research Networks

Clinical Research Networks (CRN) are the clinical research delivery arm of the NHS. They provide the infrastructure that allows high-quality clinical research to take place in the NHS, so that patients can benefit from new and better treatments.

They help researchers to set up clinical studies quickly and effectively, support the life-sciences industry to deliver their research programmes, provide health professionals with research training, and work with patients to ensure their needs are at the centre of research activity.

At the heart of the Clinical Research Network’s activities is the NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio. This consists of high-quality clinical research studies that are eligible for consideration for support from the Clinical Research Network in England.

CRNs are part of the National Institute for Health Research.


Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care

A Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) gets the right health research done for a wide geographical area. It undertakes high-quality applied health research, focused on the needs of patients, and supports the translation of research evidence into practice in the NHS.

CLAHRCs are collaborative partnerships between a university (or universities) and the surrounding NHS organisations and local authorities, focused on improving patient outcomes and population health through the conduct and application of applied health research. They create and embed approaches to research and its dissemination that are specifically designed to take account of the way that health care is increasingly delivered across sectors and a wide geographical area.

CLAHRCs are part of the National Institute for Health Research.


Biomedical Research Centres

Formed through partnerships between England’s leading NHS organisations and universities, 20 NIHR Biomedical Research Centres conduct translational research to transform scientific breakthroughs into life-saving treatments for patients.

Staffed by expert investigators and clinicians, NIHR BRCs are leaders in translating lab-based discoveries into new cutting edge treatments, technologies, diagnostics and other interventions in clinical settings.

BRCs are part of the National Institute for Health Research.


What does each local body do?

Avon Primary Care Research Collaborative (APCRC)

The Avon Primary Care Research Collaborative (APCRC) works on behalf of three clinical commissioning groups (CCGs): Bristol CCG, North Somerset CCG and South Gloucestershire CCG. They are responsible for supporting and managing research in primary care as well as supporting commissioners to embed a culture of learning through evaluation and evidence informed commissioning. As an organisation they aim to achieve excellence in supporting research, service evaluation and the routine use of best evidence, to commission the highest quality services and deliver better outcomes for our local populations.

Avon Primary Care Research Collaborative (APCRC) website


Bristol Health Partners

Bristol Health Partners is a strategic collaboration between the city region's major health institutions, covering the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire area. These include its three NHS trusts, three clinical commissioning groups, two universities and its local authority. These organisations have formed Bristol Health Partners voluntarily, and we are funded by contributions from five of the partners.

It aims to maximise Bristol’s health research to transform the understanding, treatment and prevention of key health problems in the city region. Bristol Health Partners’ vision is for those who live in and around Bristol to enjoy the highest possible quality of life and experience of care.

Bristol Health Partners website


National Institute for Health Research Bristol Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR Bristol BRC)

The National Institute for Health Research Bristol Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR Bristol BRC) is a partnership between University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Bristol. BRCs conduct innovative translational medical science research to drive through improvements in health and healthcare, and encourage closer working with industry.

NIHR Bristol BRC brings together existing research excellence in cardiovascular and nutrition, with three new research themes of mental health, perinatal and reproductive health and surgical innovation. The research themes are underpinned by cross-cutting themes in translational population science and biostatistics, evidence synthesis and informatics.

NIHR Bristol BRC website


NIHR Clinical Research Network: West of England (NIHR CRN: West of England)

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) is the clinical research delivery arm of the NHS. CRNs operate nationally across 15 regions, delivering research in the NHS across all clinical areas. CRN: West of England helps to increase the opportunities for patients to take part in clinical research and ensure that studies are carried out efficiently and support the government’s strategy for UK life sciences by improving the environment for commercial clinical research in the NHS.

CRN: West of England works in collaboration with acute trusts, clinical commissioning groups, consortia, GP surgeries, mental health trusts and other partner organisations. It grows and progresses new initiatives, allocates resource to clinical teams and develops new approaches to existing processes. It aims to reduce the time an idea takes from bench to bedside. The NIHR Clinical Research Network: West of England is hosted by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust.

NIHR CRN West of England website


NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West (NIHR CLAHRC West)

The overall mission of NIHR CLAHRC West is to actively engage its partners in the conduct of applied health research and the implementation of research evidence to improve health and healthcare across its area. Its ethos is to focus on research and implementation that is equitable and fair, appropriate, providing optimum advice or care at the right time and place, and sustainable, taking account of resource-use and future continuation.

CLAHRC West focuses on improving the management of chronic diseases, public health interventions and population health, and mental health. It is hosted by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, acting on behalf of the collaborative partnership between local providers of NHS services and NHS commissioners, universities, local authorities and third sector and patient and user organisations, and the West of England Academic Health Science Network (WEAHSN).

National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West (NIHR CLAHRC West) website


People in Health West of England

People in Health West of England is a collaborative partnership of local organisations, supporting researchers to involve the public in health and social care research, and supporting the public to get involved. Partners include three universities, seven clinical commissioning groups, seven NHS trusts and the South West Ambulance Service NHS Trust alongside other various community health and social care organisations.

People in Health West of England have produced an infographic showing how they link with their partners and other local organisations.

People in Health West of England website


West of England Academic Health Science Network (AHSN)

The West of England Academic Health Science Network is a diverse network of partners who are working collaboratively to put innovation at the heart of healthcare, to improve patient outcomes and contribute to wealth creation. The network aims to do this by translating research into practice, and developing and implementing integrated health care services. Partners include various providers of NHS care, universities, NHS commissioners, and a wide range of other organisations.

West of England Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) website


What geographical area does each body cover?

The West of England AHSN covers:

  • Bath and North East Somerset
  • Bristol
  • Gloucestershire
  • North Somerset
  • South Gloucestershire
  • Swindon
  • Wiltshire

CLAHRC West, the CRN: West of England and People in Health West of England cover the same patch as WEAHSN, while Bristol Health Partners and APCRC cover the Bristol city region, including North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. The NIHR Bristol BRC doesn't cover a specific geographical location.

How Bristol Health Partners, CLAHRC West and WEAHSN interact

Bristol Health Partners, through its Health Integration Teams, identifies what health research is needed. CLAHRC West provides researchers and other academic professionals, to undertake that research, and they also work on other projects for other partners. West of England AHSN translates that, and other, research into practice and spreads best practice across a wide geographical area.

The relationship between these bodies should be seen as complementary, dovetailing with each other, never in competition with each other. Indeed, at a senior level, the same people are involved across two or more of the organisations, helping them work in synergy.

The diagram below shows the interrelationship between the three bodies.

Diagram showing how Bristol Health Partners, CLAHRC West and WEAHSN interrelate

The West of England AHSN is the natural vehicle for putting evidence generated by Bristol Health Partners and CLAHRC West into practice. The three organisations have jointly developed policies for research development and participation, capacity building, patient and public involvement and engagement, and support for research implementation and service improvement.

Bristol Health Partners and CLAHRC West lead on the production and integration of research and evaluation, while the West of England AHSN fosters the embedding of research and evidence in practice across the region.

The West of England AHSN also leads on wealth creation, including the interface with industry and developing a consistent approach to intellectual property, and engagement with other partnerships such as the Local Economic Partnership and Business West.

A board paper on the North Bristol NHS Trust website (PDF), explains the interactions more fully.
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