COVID-19 April 2020 newsletter
Dear colleague,

This is a brief update on the activities of the Innovation Agency and the wider AHSN Network in relation to COVID-19.

We are very conscious that this is not the time to be promoting innovations other than those that help us to address our immediate crisis.

There are a number of AHSN Network initiatives to combat Covid 19 which we are helping to deliver nationally, described in this newsletter. We have also offered many of our skilled and experienced staff to support the NHS regionally and nationally.

To date, our project management staff have been seconded to NHS North West to help the Return to Work scheme, to quickly mobilise staff who have recently left the NHS, back into practice. Our senior communications officer has been seconded to support NHSX as they roll out new programmes to support digital transformation. One of our Associate Directors has been seconded to NHSE/I to support the Cabinet Office to deal with Covid 19 queries. Our clinical and digital staff have registered their skill set with NHSE/I North West and are being deployed in the areas of most need.

We are working with Health Education England and one of our local universities to develop a digital mental health support health solution, for recently qualified graduates and second year nursing students who are entering the workforce early to support Covid 19 plans.

Be assured that all our efforts are currently focussed on supporting our health, care, business and academic partners through the pandemic crisis. We are also preparing to support the system to sustain some of the changes that have been made to deal with the pandemic plus give support with the other service delivery issues that will follow on from the crisis.



Dr Liz Mear
Chief Executive

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COVID-19 patient safety work

Identifying deteriorating patients

Our planned patient safety programmes have been suspended and all AHSN patient safety teams are working with NHS England / NHS Improvement on COVID-19 related support.

We are focussed on providing training and toolkits for different care settings to support appropriate decision-making over emergency admission, ventilation and inotropic support.

This includes implementation of early warning score systems NEWS2 and RESTORE2, in general practice, care homes and other non-acute settings as well as in all acute hospitals.


Training films on deterioration

AHSN Network colleagues have been working with Health Education England on a series of short training films on deterioration, mainly targeted at staff who work in care homes but which will also be helpful for staff in many other roles, including families and carers. As they may be helpful in the management of COVID-19, HEE has also made them freely available on YouTube, here.


Tracheostomy safety

We are offering support in dealing with the expected rise in numbers of tracheostomies and the discharge of patients from ICUs to wards with a tracheostomy. The focus will be on ward level care and transitions into community settings and includes bedhead signage; a tracheostomy daily care bundle; and emergency equipment.


For more information about our patient safety programmes email

High Sensitivity Troponin


We are continuing with our project to support North West Coast hospital emergency departments to implement a pathway using High Sensitivity Troponin laboratory tests to rule out whether someone is having a heart attack.

This pathway helps the effort to fight COVID-19 as the patient gets a diagnosis faster, freeing up beds.

The first in a series of webinars and virtual coaching took place last week, presented by Professor of Emergency Medicine Rick Body, Consultant Chemical Pathologist Professor Paul Collinson and Interventional Cardiologist Dr Aleem Khand.

Next steps will be improvement activities at each participating site, supported by our Coaching Academy. You can find out more by emailing

Preventing pre-eclampsia


We are continuing to support all maternity units in the North West Coast to adopt Placental Growth Factor-based tests, to reduce admissions of women at risk of pre-eclampsia.

This is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic as it could allow women to return to community care or be monitored at home instead of being admitted to hospital for observation, if pre-eclampsia has been ruled out with a PIGF-based test.

The Innovation Agency is leading an improvement collaborative which is open to staff in all North West Coast maternity units. The aim of our collaborative is to achieve PIGF-based testing in all women presenting with suspected pre-eclampsia between 20-34 weeks plus six days gestation, to help clinicians rule out pre-eclampsia (used alongside standard clinical assessment and subsequent follow up) as per NICE guidance DG23:

The first in a series of webinars is now available to view, featuring national PlGF champions, Obstetrics Consultants Dr Jenny Myers and Dr Manu Vatish; and test suppliers Roche and Quidel.

View the webinar now ►

Digital support


We are working closely with the digital teams within both Lancashire and South Cumbria and Cheshire and Merseyside systems to support the implementation of digital solutions for primary, community and secondary care, in line with local programmes and need.

This includes centrally procured solutions such as Attend Anywhere for video conferencing of outpatient consultations.

The rapid deployment of new technologies will transform the way we work and it is important we sustain successful ways of working once we are through the COVID-19 arrangements and acute pressures. We are capturing the learning on what works well – and what doesn’t – to inform future roll out of innovations.

‘The Distancer’ to tackle COVID19 spread for hospital staff


Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and 3D LifePrints have launched a new and innovative solution to help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

The Distancer is a new invention designed and prototyped using 3D technologies initially at Alder Hey. It is a small handheld device worn by a healthcare professional, with space for an ID card and fitted with a hook to open door handles and a flat end to push doors open.

The Distancer is available immediately from:

Inovus joins fight against Covid 19


A St Helens company have converted their manufacturing lines to produce face visors and parts for ventilators.

Inovus Medical, which has previously been supported by the Innovation Agency, is now supplying thousands of visors to front line care givers across the UK and has doubled its workforce to deal with demand.

Read the full story ►

Co-ordinating offers from local businesses

We are supporting calls to businesses across our region, to support the fight against Covid 19.

In Lancashire and South Cumbria, our team is part of an initiative led by the Chambers of Commerce to co-ordinate donations of vital supplies and services to the NHS.

A website has been set up with information and a call for donations of PPE and other supplies, with details of how to contribute, here:

In Liverpool City Region, we are part of the Growth Platform’s support for the Merseyside Resilience Forum to support their key role in coordinating the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers.

Business and organisations across the City Region can register their offers of help on the growth platform, here:

In Cheshire, all three local authorities are working with the Government and industry to get supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to front line workers facing shortages during the COVID 19 outbreak and are currently looking for supplies of medical masks, aprons, gloves, goggles and hand sanitiser.

More info here:

Business offers to combat COVID-19

If you are a company or an innovator with a potential COVID-19 related solution, please contact the relevant national agency direct at the addresses below.

North West Coast-based businesses can also contact us at:

PPE (Personal Protection Equipment)

Contact the Surgical MedTech Co-operative (one of NIHR’s Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives) if you have a technology that could be adapted quickly for the healthcare setting to help protect healthcare workers against aerosol contamination. Find out more about their ‘COVID-19 PPE Challenge’ here.

Vaccines: Contact Public Health England:

Ventilators: Contact the Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS): or call 0300 456 3565

Innovation and Tech: Contact NHSX:

Diagnostics: Contact Public Health England:



A new fund has been launched by NHSX for tech and apps that help people suffering as a result of self-isolation. This has received hundreds of applications which our staff are helping to evaluate.

Find out more ►

Covid19-related products ready for adoption

Our Commercial Team has helped the national AHSN Network to identify around 120 potential products which can help combat COVID-19, either for diagnostic tests or remote consultations. This has been whittled down to around a dozen which are being shared with NHS regional offices to consider for their local systems.

Helpful resources

Leadership in a crisis, the importance of courage and caring – new blog

Read the latest blog from our Associate Director for Improvement and Education Juliette Kumar

Read now ►


Video consultations – a guide for practice

Researchers at the University of Oxford led by Professor Trish Greenhalgh have produced guidance covering: When are video consultations appropriate, how can a practice get ready for them, how can clinicians conduct high-quality video consultations, what can patients do to prepare for and take part in them, and what is the research evidence for their quality and safety?

Download PDF guide ►

Watch a recorded webinar with Professor Trish Greenhalgh about setting up and running successful video consultations.

Watch the webinar ►
Read our COVID-19 newsletter for businesses for more information ►

View our role in the COVID-19 pandemic webpage ►
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