The value of Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) has been acknowledged in Forensic science and beyond: authenticity, provenance and assurance, a report by the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Sir Mark Walport.
The report is intended for policymakers, legislators, and a wide range of business people, professionals, researchers and other individuals whose interests include the use of forensic analysis within the Criminal Justice System (CJS) through to authenticity, provenance and assurance in the provision of goods and services.
AHSNs appear on page 180 of the evidence section of the report, which was gathered from and written by a distinguished group of experts. Author Geraint Morgan used AHSNs as an example of how innovation could be adopted more efficiently in the forensic sector:
"In developing this, the Home Office may wish to explore how the UK healthcare sector has recently addressed the issue of clinical innovation and adoption. The NHS Five Year Forward View sets out additional steps that the NHS will take to accelerate innovation to find better ways of delivering health and care. This strategy includes the establishment of fifteen regional Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), a similar number of Clinical Research Networks (CRNs) and the recent global call for the establishment of five ‘test beds’ that will receive national support for implementing high-potential innovations that respond to local clinical needs. Each of the AHSNs has been given significant funding and a five-year license from NHS England to 'facilitate the adoption of innovative practices, products and services at scale and more quickly than has previously been achieved in the NHS'.
"The NHS has also recognised that 'too often, new technologies have been tested alone, in isolation from complementary innovations in how NHS services are delivered, limiting the value they produce'. AHSNs, CRNs and test beds are seen as the mechanism by which this can be addressed, and similar bodies could have a positive impact on forensic science. A national strategy for the sector is essential, along with appropriate funding. That strategy should include mechanisms for academia, industry, customers, end-user communities and the government to engage and communicate more effectively, to ensure that innovations are fit-for-purpose and that CJS requirements are not over interpreted, potentially stifling innovation.”
A summary version of the report is also available.