Chair appointed to innovative new health network

Issue date: 04 June 2013

UWE Bristol Vice Chancellor Steve West

Professor Steve West (Vice Chancellor, UWE Bristol) has been appointed as the first Chair of the new West of England Academic Health Science Network (WEAHSN).

The network, which was authorised by NHS England last week, is one of 15 across the country that aim to transform health and healthcare by putting innovation at the heart of the NHS.

Professor Steve West acted as interim chair of the network before its authorisation.

Professor West said, “We have a really exciting opportunity to bring together a wide range of partners including health commissioners and providers, universities, industry and other stakeholders to improve some of the big and difficult health issues. I am delighted to be leading this network.”

Professor West, a podiatrist and podiatric surgeon, became Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Care at UWE in 1995 and Vice Chancellor of the University in 2008. He is Chair of the University Alliance, President of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the West of England Initiative, linking a business-facing university and the business leadership organisation Business West.

He has been appointed for a five year term and will work with members across the network to build strong relationships in order to spread innovation.

Mary Hutton, Accountable Officer of Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group said, “This is a great appointment. Steve has already shown the energy, passion and leadership he will bring to the role. His experience across health, academia and his business facing focus give him a unique insight to lead this work”.

Anthony Farnsworth, NHS England Area Director for Bristol, North Somerset, Somerset and South Gloucestershire said, “The landscape of the new NHS is complex and the AHSN will have a crucial role in enabling cross system and sector working. I look forward to working with the network and Steve.”

The appointment follows a rigorous selection process lead by Sir Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England and former Chief Executive of NHS Executive. The selection panel included representatives from health, academia and industry.

Academic Health Science Networks were devised in response to the 2011 Government report, Innovation Health and Wealth: Accelerating Adoption and Diffusion in the NHS. Network members include commissioners and providers of NHS services, alongside universities in Bath, Bristol and Gloucestershire.

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