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December

Next steps for Academic Health Sciences Centre

DECEMBER 09, 2008

Plans to develop an Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) with NHS partners took a step forward today with the announcement of a name, ‘King’s Health Partners’, and that Vice-Principal (Health) Professor Robert Lechler is confirmed as Interim Director.

King’s College London and partners Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts have been working together for the past 18 months to develop proposals to become one of the UK’s first Academic Health Sciences Centres (AHSCs).  The Institute of Psychiatry is a school of King's College London

The Partnership Board, which has been overseeing the work to date has announced that Professor Robert Lechler has been confirmed as Interim Director of the AHSC which will be known as King’s Health Partners. 

Professor Lechler, who is currently Vice-Principal (Health) at King's College London and Vice Chairman of Guy’s and St Thomas’, will lead continuing preparations for the formal accreditation process for AHSCs that has been announced by the Department of Health.  He has a distinguished career in academic medicine and has held many senior posts in the fields of renal transplantation and immunology.  He joined King’s College London in 2004 from Imperial College London where he was Head of the Division of Medicine.

Professor Lechler said: ‘I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead this work, which will require a first and second stage submission to the Department of Health in January and February 2009.

‘It will be essential that we exploit the considerable enthusiasm that our preparations have already generated amongst both clinical and academic colleagues.  We are determined to be at the forefront of the drive to create AHSCs in the UK.  Our stated ambition is to compete with the very best health organisations internationally, and thereby to attract the best staff, brightest students and truly leading-edge researchers.

‘Whist there will be many challenges, the rewards will be immense with benefits for patients, local people and the wider population.  Our AHSC has a number of defining features, which include a commitment to both local and international impact, to be inclusive, and to draw on the large and diverse population that we serve.

‘Other unique features include our commitment to focus on the whole patient experience, including mental health and well-being, for example through the inclusion of the health-related social sciences and humanities at King’s College London.  We also have a strong commitment to focusing on local health priorities, from obesity to cardiovascular disease and stroke, spanning the research spectrum from basic scientific discovery in the laboratory to experimental medicine through clinical trials and the development of novel diagnostics.’

The Partnership Board also agreed to create a Transitional Executive which will be made up of key individuals who will lead the accreditation process and help ensure that we maintain the momentum we have already generated. The first confirmed appointment to the Transitional Executive is Roland Sinker, who will be the Interim Programme Director, and further appointments are expected during December. 

Current Chair of the Partnership Board and Chair of South London and Maudsley, Madeleine Long, said: ‘We are delighted to announce Professor Lechler’s appointment.  We have taken huge strides forward in recent weeks and expect to unveil more detailed governance arrangements – how the AHSC will be managed – as we finalise our submissions to the Department of Health.

‘The creation of the Transitional Executive and the appointments to it are designed to accelerate progress as we move through the accreditation process, and will be followed by a competitive appointments process to key senior posts in due course. We will continue to keep staff and colleagues fully informed over the coming weeks.’

The naming of the AHSC, which will be known as King’s Health Partners, follows detailed research.  This involved both international academics and other stakeholders who will be interested in the work of the AHSC, as well as local focus groups involving a wide range of staff and academic colleagues, students, Foundation Trust governors and members and Board representatives.

Commenting on the naming of the AHSC, Chief Executive of Guy’s and St Thomas’ and executive lead for the communications workstream, Ron Kerr added: ‘We explored a broad range of naming options and it was the King’s name which resonated most strongly in the context of the AHSC with the majority of the people we spoke to.  In most cases, and particularly in the US where the AHSC concept is most established, the name often includes that of the academic partner, although the strength of an AHSC is of course the sum of all parts - the bringing together of service delivery, teaching and research.

‘The AHSC name will be used in conjunction with the existing names and logos of each partner organisation and detailed work about how and when it will be used is currently taking place.’
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