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Issue 99  |  22 July 2022
Welcome to our special issue of Collaborate, introducing our Annual Review for 2021/22. We are excited to showcase our activity over the last year, as well as our plans for the future.
Download the KSS AHSN Annual Review 2021/22
This newsletter gives a flavour of some of our work and the our impact in the region. Read the full annual review for more details. Highlights include:
A year of change

With both internal and system changes, this has been a year of adjustment.

The framework and purposes document for all Integrated Care Systems was issued in summer 2021, spelling out the ICS’s requirements in relation to innovation and research, service quality, economic growth and inequalities.

These all align with AHSN priority areas and expertise, creating a good environment for collaboration in which the AHSN can play a guiding role to support delivery of ICS objectives.

Internal restructuring at KSS AHSN has confirmed Des Holden as CEO, after a period as Interim CEO. Former CEO Guy Boersma has returned as Strategy Director. We appointed two new Non-executive Directors, Zoe Nicholson and Kate Lancaster, and thanked outgoing NED Anna van der Gaag for her nine years of service in the role. Unity Insights, a new company, has been created from the former KSS AHSN Insights team.

We will retain a close working relationship with them, and there is significant crossover of senior leadership personnel between the two organisations, ensuring continuing co-operation.

Des Holden, Chief Executive

Wave 2 pandemic response

During wave 2 of the system’s response to the pandemic, we focused on supporting system partners, responding to requests for help and working with our NHS England commissioners in the regional team to roll out support with remote monitoring and virtual wards across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

This saw the three south east AHSNs (KSS, Oxford and Wessex) working together to deliver these solutions quickly across our geographies. 
Priority projects included:

  • Promoting patient safety via the Patient Safety Collaborative’s work on remote monitoring at home, and virtual wards
  • Respiratory response, including the Breathing Matters e-newsletter, the Oxygen Network, and the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Network.
  • Supporting innovators, particularly around the reset and recovery process, and including specific calls to action to industry.
  • Implementing Wave 1 research, including quality of life for people with dementia and their carers, and new research into the needs of care leavers post-lockdown.

Supporting our own staff was also a priority, moving towards a blended home/office working pattern.

National programmes


We have been working with mental health trusts and community paediatric services to improve the assessment process for ADHD using technology created by health technology company QbTech.
The technology, QbTest, measures a patient’s attention, impulsivity and motor activity all at the same time. These indicators are core symptoms of ADHD and accurate measurement adds objectivity to support timely diagnosis.


First Episode Rapid Early Intervention for Eating Disorders (FREED), supports 18-25 year-olds who have had an eating disorder for three years or less. We have supported this ‘gold standard’ care across three mental health teams in the region.

Spread and adoption of supported innovations

  • HeartFlow, creating a 3D image of a heart from a CT scan, to speed up diagnoses.
  • Cholesterol management, including around Lipids and Familial Hypercholesterolaemia.
  • Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide (FeNO), for measuring and diagnosing asthma.

Industry and technology navigation

With a new, expanded team, we have exceeded our targets for providing support to innovators in health and care.
Regional work

Surrey Heartlands HealthTech Accelerator

Supporting industry, academia and clinicians, including

  • Bid for Better with Royal Surrey County Hospital
  • Surrey-wide hydration bid
  • Learning disabilities and autism
  • Mental health and risk stratification


Children and young people

A review and evaluation of the work undertaken by Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) supporting schools to deliver whole school approaches to emotional wellbeing and mental health across east and south east England.

Students' wellbeing

In conjunction with Wessex, and Oxfordshire and Thames Valley AHSNs, and in partnership with NHS England, we organised an event that brought together representatives from across health services, higher education sector and students to discuss ways to improve local students’ wellbeing and mental health.

Respiratory Network Programme

Two virtual Respiratory Collaborative events were held in 2021 with over 100 attendees in multidisciplinary roles attending each event, along with tour annual KSS Respiratory Quality Improvement Awards in May 2021. We also worked to spread COPD and asthma discharge bundles through the National Patient Safety Improvement Programme.

The Respiratory Programme is also undergoing a refresh, strengthening links with the ICS Respiratory Networks.


Pharmacist-led Information technology intervention for the reduction of Clinically important Errors in medicines management in general practice (PINCER) is a methodology for reducing medication errors and improving medication safety. Identified as a priority for adoption and spread, more than 430 KSS GP practices are using this approach now.

NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Kent, Surrey and Sussex

Bringing together NHS, local authorities, universities, communities and more, to improve health for local residents. Four core research themes are:
  • Starting Well: Children’s Mental Health
  • Living Well with Dementia
  • Social Care
  • Primary and Community Care

And there's more...

  • Supporting care homes with managing deterioration, and medicines safety programmes.
  • Working to improve maternal and neonatal safety and improve the outcomes for premature births.
  • Building a remote memory assessment toolkit, supporting dementia clinicians.
  • Establishing key research themes to support adult social care.
  • Contributing to research into eating disorders.
  • Identifying the gaps in research regarding unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and female migrants.

Huntington’s Disease co-design

We have been working with Surrey Heartlands Health & Care Partnership (SHHCP), Roche and the Huntington’s Disease Association (HDA) to provide better support for people with the disease, and their carers.

Digital Fellows at University Hospitals Sussex NHSFT

We have been providing assistance to UH Sussex to set up a digital fellow programme, offering training to a group of their staff, around innovation, enterprise, analytics, and digital leadership.

The programme has already been recommissioned for 2022/23, and discussions are progressing well with Kent & Medway leads to replicate for their needs later in 2022.

Improving health check access for people with a learning disability

We secured Health Foundation Q funding to deliver a project supporting GPs to restart and enhance essential annual health checks for people with learning disabilities, helping embed the ability to request reasonable adjustments, to ensure this group can access care.

Supporting general practice

Helping GPs save time on daily tasks automating some of those that take up significant time. We have launched a call to industry around automation of processing pathology results, and managing clinical correspondence.

Sustainability agenda

KSS AHSN is working with Hexitime, the timebank that enables staff to exchange skills and ideas for health and care improvement - to share expertise, knowledge and interest on environmental sustainability. We have launched four campaigns on the Hexitime platform covering greener surgery, biodiversity, waste management and sustainable food and nutrition.
We will be publishing blogs from key team members, who pick out their highlights and take-aways from the annual review. Watch out for them on social media and our website.
  • Des Holden, CEO, considers the impact of Covid on the health and social care system, how KSS AHSN contributed to the Covid-related needs of its ICSs, and the lessons learned around the spread of innovation, as well as explaining how a data-driven approach to health inequalities will drive our work going forward.
  • Nuala Foley, Portfolio Lead: Commercial and Partnerships looks at how she and her team have been able to broaden their skills and offering and ensure that the right support is being offered to the right innovators to meet specific local needs.
  • Ursula Clarke, Patient Safety Lead, looks at the challenges of working with new groups, the importance of working strategically with partners, and the power of creativity in tackling problems.
  • Peter Carpenter, Service Delivery Director, reflects on the past year and how KSS AHSN has supported the health and care system by bringing collaborative minds together to make a bigger difference.

We hope you enjoyed this special edition of Collaborate. If you have a story you’d like to share in a regular edition, please get in touch.

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