NHS Anchors Learning Network A partnership between the Health Foundation and NHS England and NHS Improvement to develop a UK-wide NHS Anchors Learning Network

Webinar: NHS as an anchor institution - Illustration

Key Points

  • Anchor institutions are large, public sector organisations that are unlikely to relocate and have a significant stake in a geographical area. 

  • We are working with NHS England and NHS Improvement to support NHS organisations to better understand their role as anchor institutions. 

  • The NHS Anchors Learning Network will enable the spread of ideas, knowledge and capability so that NHS organisations can implement anchor strategies. 

Why are we doing this? 

The Health Foundation and NHS England and NHS Improvement have been exploring how health care organisations can maximise their resources to improve population health. 

The Health Foundation report Building healthier communities: The role of the NHS as an anchor institution showcases where NHS organisations are already implementing anchor practices and outlines opportunities for maximising the NHS’s contribution. 

The NHS Long Term Plan highlights the role that NHS organisations can play in this as ‘anchor institutions’ in their communities and includes a specific commitment for NHS England and NHS Improvement to work in partnership with the Health Foundation to identify and share examples of good practice. ​ 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant and unequal impacts on communities across the UK, bringing health inequalities into sharp focus. As a major employer, estate owner and procurer of goods, the NHS can use its influence as an anchor institution to support and accelerate a sustainable socio-economic recovery. ​ 

The NHS Anchors Learning Network 

The NHS Anchors Learning Network will enable the spread of ideas, knowledge and capability so that NHS organisations can adopt and apply anchor strategies in practice. 

By bringing together those organisations already implementing anchor approaches we can build skills and catalyse focused action in specific places or across themes of work. 

We hope that this will enable the NHS to powerfully impact the upstream wider determinants of health and leverage its assets to mitigate health inequalities and improve population health.  

The network will launch in early 2021 following a design phase that begins in autumn 2020.

Get involved

If you’re interested in hearing more about the NHS Anchors Learning Network, please get in touch

Further reading

Invitation to tender

ITT: Support partner for the design and delivery of an NHS Anchors Learning Network

Invitation to tender

We are seeking a supplier to support the design, development and delivery of a UK-wide NHS Anchors...


How the NHS can use anchor strategies to build a healthy and sustainable post-COVID-19 recovery

22 June 2020

We look at how the NHS as an anchor institution has an essential role to play in recovering from the...

Research report

Building healthier communities: the role of the NHS as an anchor institution

August 2019
Research report

Our new report explores the ways in which NHS organisations act as anchor institutions, and their...

External link

Anchored in our community: The role of the NHS in addressing health inequalities

External link

This year has been one of the most challenging years in the NHS’ history. Last Sunday, the nation...

Four partnerships chosen to be part of the Health Foundation’s programme to improve health care services through collaborative communities

28 October 2020

Four teams have been selected to be part of the Health Foundation’s £2.1 million programme, ‘Common Ambition’, for partnerships developing collaborative communities where people, families, health care...

Developing a radical new approach for designing services with people with learning disabilities and autistic people in London

Improvement project

This project is aiming to improve the quality of relationships and listening between people with learning disabilities or autism and health care professionals, through the co-design of services via co...

What matters to you? Putting people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in control of their care

Improvement project

This project will create partnerships, led by people living with IBD, to design services and deliver improved outcomes, putting people with IBD in control of their care and focusing on what matters to...

Working with people of African and Caribbean heritage to reduce HIV transmission in Bristol

Improvement project

This project is aiming to reverse HIV health inequalities experienced by people of African and Caribbean heritage living in and around Bristol by developing and testing a series of interventions with ...

Improving health services with homeless people in Brighton

Improvement project

This project is aiming to improve health services for homeless and vulnerably housed people in Brighton and Hove by integrating the experiences of people who use the services into evaluation, improvem...

Adopting Innovation: investing in skills at the NHS front line

20 October 2020

Adopting innovation is a hot topic for health care providers this year. How can we seize the opportunity to increase capability for NHS organisations to be effective adopters of innovation for the lon...

Top-down clarity, bottom-up agency: fading freedoms or here to stay?

Newsletter blog
29 September 2020

Penny Pereira and Ruth Thorlby look at what factors have enabled new levels of ingenuity in frontline staff during the pandemic, speeding up service change and finding solutions to challenging problem...

Understanding and sustaining the health care service shifts accelerated by COVID-19

Long read

COVID-19 has significantly changed the context in which the NHS operates. Here, we bring together insights into how these health care service shifts can be used to deliver sustainable change.

ITT: Support partner for the Common Ambition programme

Invitation to tender
8 September 2020

We are seeking a supplier to support the delivery of our Common Ambition programme from December 2020 through to early 2024.

Event: Positive service shifts accelerated by COVID-19: lessons for leaders

8 September 2020

Hosted by the Health Foundation's Q community, this webinar is delivered in partnership with the NHS Confederation and the AHSN Network as part of the NHS Reset campaign. 

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