There has been a “disappointing” lack of local engagement with the government’s plan to improve the spread of innovation in the NHS, new research has concluded.

The Department of Health’s Innovation, Health and Wealth report was launched in December last year to great fanfare, setting out an ambition to “ramp up the pace and scale of change” in the health service and drive growth in the wider economy.

However, a review of progress against the ambitions set out in the document by policy consultancy firm MHP Health Mandate found just six out of 26 actions due to be completed by September, such as the setting up of academic health science networks, were delivered on time.

Only a quarter of providers have a plan in place to deliver the actions in Innovation, Health and Wealth despite NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson asking NHS organisations to include the report into their planning process for 2012-13.

Just 36 per cent of boards had discussed the plan at board level - a response the report authors said was “disappointing”.

Mike Birtwistle, managing director of MHP Health Mandate, said: “Innovation is now an accepted component of improving quality at a time of austerity.  It is therefore concerning that a policy designed to improve implementation of innovation is itself suffering from patchy implementation.”

The report, Step-change? An analysis of early implementation of Innovation, Health and Wealth, was funded by multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi. Researchers used Freedom of Information requests to collect information from 62 per cent of NHS trusts and 44 per cent of PCT clusters.

Addressing the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry conference earlier this month, NHS South of England chief executive Sir Ian Carruthers, who is leading the work, said all milestones had now been met with the exception of the introduction of the innovation scorecard.

Innovation scorecards will set out which of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence technology appraisals providers and commissioners are complying with in order to improve uptake of new drugs and treatments.

Sir Ian said the NHS in England had to accept it was among the worst in Europe for access but said compliance was not as bad as the pharmaceutical industry suggested. A recent audit in his region found the worst performing health community was only failing to comply with 21 of the 287 appraisals.

He added: “Everyone in the NHS isn’t aware fully of IHW, we shouldn’t be worried about that: there are 1.3 million people and we launched it at a time when we changing the structure [of the NHS].”