Health Anchors Learning Network A UK-wide network for people responsible for, or interested in, anchors approaches to share ideas, knowledge and skills.

Webinar: NHS as an anchor institution - Illustration

Key Points

  • The Health Anchors Learning Network (HALN) aims to build knowledge, skills and expertise to maximise the NHS’ social, economic and environmental impact. 
  • The HALN is delivered by the Innovation Unit and supported by the Health Foundation and NHS England and NHS Improvement. 

What is an anchor institution? 

Anchor institutions are large public sector organisations which are rooted in place and connected to their communities, such as universities, local authorities, and hospitals. Anchors have significant assets and spending power and can consciously use these resources to benefit communities.  

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.  

What is the Health Anchors Learning Network? 

The HALN is a UK-wide network for people who are interested in, or responsible for, anchor approaches to share ideas, knowledge and skills. Through individual and collective learning, participants will become better equipped to implement anchor strategies in practice. This will help maximise the health and care system’s social, economic and environmental impact, improve the social determinants of health and help reduce inequalities.   

The HALN is delivered by the Innovation Unit and supported by the Health Foundation and NHS England and NHS Improvement. 

What will the Health Anchors Learning Network do? 

The network enables participants to:  

  • share and learn from each other’s diverse experiences  
  • develop skills and learn from experts from health and care and other sectors  
  • create innovative practices and establish collaborations   
  • problem solve together.  

The HALN also aims to help connect and share learning across other existing relevant geographic or, thematic networks.    

Through its activities, the HALN aims to:  

  • support NHS anchors at the heart of local partnerships to develop their capacity and capability to maximise the economic, social and environmental impact   
  • grow the evidence base about the role and impact of anchors    
  • scale the work of anchors across the UK  
  • support innovation and inform policy change​.  

Working in partnership on anchors 

The HALN is part of a wider programme of work between the Health Foundation and NHS England and NHS Improvement to explore and enhance to the role of the NHS as an anchor institution. The partnership builds on the Health Foundation’s work on the contribution of the health and care system to improving health and NHS England and NHS Improvement’s commitment to this work in the NHS Long Term Plan

Get involved 

Colleagues from health organisations, like trusts, hospitals and CCGs; integrated care systems; primary care networks, regional bodies; and partners, like local authorities or other public agencies, voluntary and community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector or educational or housing organisations are welcome to join. 

More information about the HALN’s activities and events can be found by: 

If you have any questions, please email 

Further reading

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...

Long read

Anchors in a storm

20 February 2021

About 20 mins to read

Long read

COVID-19 has galvanised many institutions, including the NHS, into more purposefully influencing...


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...

External link

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

External link

NHS England and Improvement are stepping up how we work with and support NHS organisations develop...

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