Health researchers in the West Country have been given a £9 million award from the Government’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to enable them to tackle the area’s most pressing health problems. The new funding will enable new research projects including forecasting demand in hospitals, increasing people’s physical activity levels, supporting people who self-harm and improving outcomes for children in care.

The investment, awarded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) which is funded by DHSC, will help develop better health and care through research that aims to address the immediate issues facing the health and social care system.

The money is part of a larger £135 million award over five years to 15 pioneering research teams across the country, known as NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs).

Professor Chris Whitty, NIHR Lead and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Health and Social Care, said:

“The unique local collective approach at each NIHR Applied Research Collaboration will support applied health and care research that responds to, and meets, the needs of local patients, and local health and care systems. The network will also be able to tackle health priorities at a national level.”

These ARC teams build on the success of the NIHR Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs), which the ARCs replace from 1 October 2019. The team in the West, NIHR CLAHRC West has a strong track record of producing impactful research with a range of collaborators.

The CLAHRC West team has worked on diverse projects including evaluating patient safety tools and the roll out of an intervention to reduce cerebral palsy in premature babies with the West of England Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), exploring the experiences of Somali families affected by autism, creating harm reduction materials with people who inject drugs and improving how healthcare professionals respond to signs of domestic violence and abuse.

ARC West will be hosted by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UH Bristol) and brings together universities, local authorities, NHS trusts, clinical commissioning groups, voluntary sector and community organisations, alongside patients and members of the public, to focus on improving health and care for local people.

John Macleod, Director of ARC West and Professor of Clinical Epidemiology and Primary Care at the University of Bristol, said:

“This funding will help us work with our partners for better, more equitable, appropriate and sustainable health and care across the West, and is testament to the strength of our local collaborations. Securing the ARC West funding has been a real team effort, and it’s been an honour to work with the people who have made our bid a success. I would like to thank everyone involved in the process.

“I also want to pay tribute to the CLAHRC West team, who have worked so hard over the last five years to build our reputation for impactful applied research. I want to especially recognise the efforts of Professor Jenny Donovan in leading our first successful CLAHRC bid and then directing CLAHRC West. I am looking forward to building on the strong foundations that she and the rest of the team have laid.”

Natasha Swinscoe, Chief Executive Officer of the West of England AHSN, said:

“The announcement of funding for the new ARC West is excellent news, and the West of England AHSN very much looks forward to building on our previous highly successful collaborations with CLAHRC West, such as the evaluation of the Emergency Department Safety Checklist across the West of England, and use of National Early Warning Scores to better detect deteriorating patients in pre-hospital settings.

“We have a number of joint collaborations in the pipeline, and in particular we are excited about the further development of our PReCePT programme, helping to reduce cerebral palsy in premature babies. This was developed in the West Country and has been selected as one of the first national roll-out programmes by the full AHSN Network across all maternity units in England. The West of England AHSN is leading this national implementation, with NIHR CLAHRC West, and now ARC West, as the evaluation partner.

“We’re working closely with ARC West on our future shared work programme and expect further opportunities for collaboration to come from the national rollout of ReSPECT (Recommended Summary Plan for Emergency Care and Treatment), supporting personalised recommendations for an individual’s clinical care in emergency situations, as well as healthcare innovations identified through a number of national programmes that support the priorities of healthcare providers in our region.”

Robert Woolley, Chief Executive of UH Bristol and part of the successful bid team, said:

“Research is the lifeblood of our trust and wider health and care system. The work my colleagues will undertake in ARC West is vital and necessary. It will change how we deliver care and public health interventions.

“Applied research may not get the same attention as new cures or medical devices. But what it does is tell us how to do things better, or even stop doing certain things. The ARC West team will help its partners improve, from hospitals to mental health trusts, and voluntary sector organisations to local authorities. Congratulations to John and the team for this latest addition to the west’s impressive research landscape.”




Posted on July 11, 2019

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