Learning from the HIECs

Health Innovation and Education Clusters (HIECs) were established in 2009/10 as a vehicle to drive innovative practice in the delivery of NHS care and education.  A key feature of the HIEC initiative was the ambition to combine the expertise of industry, health and education at a local level.  Seventeen HIECs were established in England with modest, short-term funding (typically £1/2 million over two years).  Overall, £11 million was allocated in the first year to the 17 successful applicants.  HIECs were established in nine of the ten NHS regions in England.

With the change of government in 2010, the ideas of HIECs were replaced by the new structures to support innovation and education: a confusing landscape of Strategic Clinical Networks (SCNs), Local Education and Training Boards (LETBs) and Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs).  As a result of this policy shift, the contribution of the HIECs was never properly evaluated.  The HIEC movement therefore decided for itself to evaluate their contribution and they did this in a number of ways.  This section of the website reports their findings and seeks to record the legacy of the HIECs and, especially, the lessons which can usefully contribute to the development of the newer networks.

There are three parts to this section of the website:

  • Partnership Working in Action: materials collected and collated by the HIECs while they were in operation with the support of the NHS Confederation and the Clinical Leaders network.
  • How did we do? -independent evaluations of some HIECs, conducted by external researchers at the end of the HIEC life.
  • Lessons from the HIECs: independent research, led by the University of Oxford, into unique aspects of HIECs such as their collaborative governance model and the factors which enabled these new types of cross-sectoral locally based networks to be established and to flourish.

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