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£135 million research fund announced for NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) North Thames

Announcement marked with a visit to the ARC by Baroness Nicola Blackwood, Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care.

by City Press Office (General enquiries)

Government has announced a £135 million investment in applied health research to equip NHS, public health and social care for the future.

The NHS is joining forces with six London-based universities, including City, University of London, leading innovators and local authorities to solve some of the biggest issues facing health and social care over the next five years.

Baroness Nicola Blackwood, Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, visited ARC North Thames on the day of the announcement.

Fifteen partnerships across England, including NIHR ARC North Thames, have been awarded funding through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) for ground-breaking new research that will address the increasing demands on the NHS, public health and social care, improve outcomes and services and reduce inequalities.

Organisations that NIHR ARC North Thames will work with

NIHR ARC North Thames is a partnership of six leading universities (City, University of London, UCL, QMUL, LSE, LSHTM, and UEL), the NHS and councils (across Central and East London, Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire), patients, communities, charities and industry.

NIHR ARC North Thames partners share a commitment to improve health and social care services and to reduce inequalities. Working together, they aim to identify the health and care problems that most concern everyone, design innovative research in response and then rapidly put findings into practice across the Thames region and beyond.

The ARC has a focus on five themes: mental health, multimorbidity, population health and social care, innovation and implementation, health economics and data.

It has studies planned in areas where it can achieve significant advances in tackling major health and care challenges– from reducing urgent care admissions to improving management of frailty; developing and evaluating pathways linking primary, secondary, and social care; addressing fairness and quality in provision of mental health services for all ages; developing the potential of diverse data for examining variations in outcomes; and providing tools to drive implementation across diverse settings.

It will examine persistent problems (such as child health inequalities, impacts of multiple disadvantage, pollution, polypharmacy and sustainable social care) and emerging issues (such as gambling, knife crime and built infrastructure for sustainability).

NIHR ARC North Thames has also been designated as the national ARC lead for population health.

In addition to planned research, it will work closely with its partners to design and deliver new research that is likely to have substantial beneficial impacts on health and services.

Academy

It will train frontline NHS and Public Health staff in applied research skills. This will support them to use the highest quality research in their work for patient and public benefit. It will also enable them to develop into research leaders, widening its network of experts, thus ensuring that future research is grounded in health and care settings and in communities, so meeting their most pressing practical needs.

Public and Community Involvement

It has highly valued public partners who keep its work relevant and where necessary challenge its priorities, ideas and proposed research. Its aim is to deliver research in communities with communities and for communities.

Professor Rosalind Raine (Director, NIHR ARC North Thames) said:

The key to achieving the Holy Grail of delivering world leading research and rapid impact is to work hand in glove with our partners. We are designed to be agile enough to tackle major emerging issues that come from the ground up, from frontline staff, patients and the public.  So our results will be of direct value and can be readily spread across the country in partnership with our AHSN, UCL Partners.

We are also passionate about reducing inequalities. We must achieve benefits for all those in our region, which encompasses a range of neighbourhoods including the third most deprived in England. We also serve ethnically diverse and highly mobile communities. By closely collaborating with ARCs across the country, we will ensure that our research is truly relevant to different social and demographic groups whether they live in urban or rural settings.

Health Minister Nicola Blackwood said:

“As the population grows and demand on the NHS increases, it is paramount we develop the next generation of technologies and improve the way we work to ensure the NHS continues to offer world-leading care.

“The UK has a proud history of cutting edge health research and by supporting the great minds in health and social care, this funding has the potential to unlock solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing healthcare and revolutionise the way patients access treatments in the future.”

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.

“The 15 new NIHR Applied Research Collaborations will ensure that we grow applied health and care research in every region in England. The additional funding announced today means we will ensure that our world-leading research is turned into real benefits for patients and ensure the NIHR Applied Research Collaborations work together to have national-level impact.”

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