David Burn, Director of Newcastle Health Innovation Partners: A New Dawn

Picture the scene: 6pm on the 31st March 2020 and two weeks or so into lockdown.  Sitting at the computer screen trying to make sense of the information coming in from all sides about the potential impact of COVID-19.  An email arrives from NIHR with an attachment in relation to our Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) application.  No indication as to whether it is good or bad news.

In the seconds it takes to open the attachment, I am transported back to the penultimate time I travelled out of Newcastle pre-lockdown – February, to the Richmond Hotel in London for the AHSC interview.  It is fair to say that the interview was not straightforward, and led to several nights of chewing over how I could have better answered some of the panel’s questions.   One thing, though, that stuck in my mind was the outstanding support “Team Newcastle” demonstrated for our AHSC application that day, with CEO representation from all of the partners, all determined to make a difference during the interview.

Well, as they say, the result in the email attachment is now history.  Along with Bristol, Newcastle joined an elite group of eight designated AHSCs, overseen by the National Institute for Health Research, NHS England and NHS Improvement.   After a sleepless night due to sheer excitement and an adrenaline rush, the reality rapidly dawned (along with Newcastle Health Innovation Partners coming into being, on the 1st April).

Now we need to deliver!  And deliver we shall.  There is a groundswell of positivity and commitment across all five partner organisations to make the AHSC work, and to make a real difference to the health, wealth and well-being of the population of the North East and North Cumbria.    This will be about winning hearts and minds, to show what advantages an AHSC can bring to our area, catalysing new ways of joint working and stimulating innovative and bold ideas for maximum societal benefit.

Work to create a strong identity for Newcastle Health Innovation Partners is well underway, with plans forming for a launch event (more to follow soon).  We have also appointed a Chief Operating Officer, Peter Noble, who brings a wealth of experience to the position.  Good communication will be critical to the success of our AHSC and we aim to keep as many people as possible across the region updated with events and developments in future blogs and other platforms.

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