HIECs are a new kind of partnership, formed between the NHS, higher education, industry (healthcare and non-healthcare industries), and other public and private sector organisations.
The West Midlands Central Health Innovation and Education Cluster (WMC HIEC) is 1 of 17 HIECs funded across the country and has been formed to ensure that high quality education, strengthened by accelerated adoption of new technologies and models of care, will support a world class workforce providing the highest quality healthcare. HIECs are a new kind of partnership, formed between the NHS, higher education, industry (healthcare and non-healthcare industries), and other public and private sector organisations.
WMC HIEC aims to create innovative ways to combine advances in education, service and industry to speed up practice and improve patient health care.
The concepts underpinning the development of Health Innovation and Education Clusters (HIECs) were announced in Lord Darzi’s High Quality for All in June 2008. Darzi identified the need to establish new partnerships between the NHS, universities and industry to ‘enable pioneering new treatments and models of care to be developed and then delivered directly to patients’. It was felt that education, service, research and innovation should be aiming for high quality patient care, but that the translation of research into practice and exploitation of new technology is too slow, that there is variable quality in education and that the training for the workforce was not responsive to service needs (P. Hamilton verbal communication May 2010).
Darzi aimed to ‘foster a pioneering health service that makes best use of the talents of NHS staff, the higher education sector and industry’ by bringing together the talents of different sectors across primary, community and secondary care, universities and colleges, and industry.
Submissions for applications to establish HIECs were submitted to the Department of Health in October 2009. In the West Midlands there were three submissions and all were successful. Following notification of our success in January 2010 the three HIECs have worked with the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority to develop work streams in collaboration with our partners in alignment with our original bids.
West Midlands Strategic Health Authority press release can be found at: http://www.westmidlands.nhs.uk/News/2010Pressreleases/tabid/139/id/311/Default.aspx