David Wynick, Chair of the Bristol Health Partners Executive Group and one of the architects of the partnership, reflects on the changes that have happened in Bristol Health Partners recently and looks ahead to the local bid to become an Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC).
I am honoured to have helped setup and been involved in the development of Bristol Health Partners over the last eight years. It has been exciting and rewarding to watch the HITs progress since their inception in Oct 2011, when Jenny Donovan, Peter Mathieson and I first developed the idea of “bottom-up” collaborations bringing together clinician, researchers and patients to focus on a disease area or unmet clinical or health need. The first HITs were accredited by the Bristol Health Partners Executive a year later in autumn 2012 and we now have 19 HITs that we support, with more being planned and developed.
Given the ever-changing health and care landscape in England, it is reassuring that the goals of Bristol Health Partners are just as relevant to our regional population across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) today as they were when the first collaboration agreement was signed in 2012.
Our aims are still to address major public health imperatives and disease areas through the integration of primary, secondary and tertiary care with community service provision, public health (including preventative strategies), education, training, innovation and research. This unified and focused approach will deliver healthier lives, earlier prevention of illness and disease, and better integration of healthcare across Bristol.
As with all well-performing organisations, nothing ever stays the same, nor should it. Over the last year the Board has made some difficult but sensible decisions as to what the partnership should be focusing on over the next three years. As part of those changes it is with much sadness that we say goodbye to David Relph who, as Director of Bristol Health Partners, has provided excellent leadership. He has steered the partnership with deftness and aplomb, with a much-needed focus on raising our profile regionally and nationally.
As Chair of the Bristol Health Partners Executive I am delighted to be able to continue to work closely with the Board and to spend more time helping to shape the next phase in the development of the partnership.
My plan is to work very closely with Lisa King, the new Chief Operating Officer, and the rest of the core team to further develop the HIT model and to focus on integrating the work of the HITs with the priorities of the BNSSG Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) and the local Clinical Commissioning Group and Council, who commission our clinical and health services.
Leading on from this close working and integration with our regional partners, is the expected call later this year for bids to become an NIHR designated Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC). The scoping work we have done over the last six months has confirmed that we can make a coherent and strong case for AHSC status.
Over the next few months we will focus on what we need to collectively do differently to further strengthen the integration across the partnership and to put us in the very best position to bid when the AHSC call is announced. I look forward to updating you regularly as our plans progress.