Eastern Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) works across the East of England to identify and support innovations that meet the needs of the NHS and its patients. We do this by connecting a wide range of people who bring a diverse set of interests, including industry, healthcare professionals, academia, third sector organisations and patients. We are funded primarily by NHS England and are part of a wider network of AHSNs that covers all of England.
How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?
Eastern AHSN supports NHS organisations to identify, assess, implement and evaluate innovations aimed at preventing suicide in the East of England. We ran a campaign to understand how healthcare innovations could support organisations to reduce suicide rates and sought the views of people with lived experience in order to identify which innovations had potential.
We subsequently hosted an innovation exchange event, bringing together a wide range of interested parties including innovators, health and care professionals and people with lived experience to discuss how innovations could work in practice. You can read more on our website.
What are your current priorities?
Three innovations were chosen from the event to be piloted in different real world settings, in the hope that they can be adopted at scale in our region and subsequently on a national basis.
As well as supporting these trials, Eastern AHSN is building a community of practice for those interested in finding out more about the projects and the other innovations shown to have potential in this area. If you are interested, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
What challenges are you currently facing?
Our ambition is that the innovations reach those who are in most need but for that to happen, individuals are expected to opt into some of the technologies themselves. However, people at risk are typically not well-engaged with services so it can be difficult to ensure that they have access to these supportive services. For example a suicide prevention app will only be useful if those who need it know that it’s available and can download and use it. To overcome this challenge, we have planned our communication and promotional initiatives carefully.
Another challenge we face is how to evaluate the short-term impact of the innovations, when statistics relating to suicide are typically measured/reported on over a longer period of time. In order to overcome this, we have to agree alternative evaluation methods.