Bristol Health Partners is the first Academic Health Science Centre (ASHC) in England to develop a fully integrated relationship with the Healthier Together Integrated Care System (ICS) for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG), a decision which was approved at a Healthier Together Partnership Board meeting on 8 July.

This new structure aims to make best use of the academic research, implementation and evaluation activities that Bristol Health Partners undertakes to support the work of the ICS.

This will mean close joint working of researchers with patients and healthcare professionals to agree what works best to improve health and care across BNSSG. That could include recommending new technologies that can better support patients or helping to measure whether changes to services are working for patients and practitioners.

The BNSSG area has world-leading researchers on topics as far ranging as vaccines, healthy childhoods, mental health, cardiovascular disease and responsible use of data. Researchers are able to bring the latest evidence of what works, new ideas and funding to work on the health and care issues that matter most to local people.

Both Healthier Together and the Bristol Health Partners AHSC want the local population to benefit from this expertise in an ever-expanding number of health and care areas.

Experience of Covid has shown that connecting researchers with people who plan and deliver health and care services helps make safer, higher quality decisions.

This new partnership will mean that more local patients will benefit from a health and care system that learns from the very best evidence from around the world.

Professor David Wynick, Director of Bristol Health Partners AHSC, said:

“We are the first AHSC to have developed this very close formal relationship with our ICS and we are excited about the opportunities it presents. We hope it will lead to the delivery of world-class health, clinical and economic outcomes through improved prevention of illness and disease and better integration of health and care services in our region.”

Robert Woolley and Julia Ross, Chief Executives at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust and BNSSG Clinical Commissioning Group respectively; and executive co-leads of Healthier Together, said:

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Bristol Health Partners AHSC and be the first area in the country to formalise this arrangement.

“Our area has considerable strength in health research and this partnership can only further integrate this research into the delivery of our services and development of our dedicated health and care workers.

“This is an exciting opportunity, and we look forward to developing this relationship further to ensure sustainable, high quality care for everyone in BNSSG.”

The membership of the new Research & Innovation Steering Group of the BNSSG ICS includes directors of research, clinical strategy, public health, social care, senior innovation leaders and education from our core funding partners. It also includes public contributors and senior representatives from primary care, NIHR Applied Research Collaboration West, NIHR Clinical Research Network West of England, West of England Academic Health Science Network (WEAHSN), Healthier Together ICS, university research institutes and People in Health West of England.