£9m for research to improve East of England health and care

  • Date

    Tue 23 Jul 19

crowd in street

The University of Essex is part of a new collaboration applying research to help communities with the greatest health challenges across the region to transform the lives of people managing health issues.

The government has announced a total £135m investment for 15 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaborations (ARC) across the UK, including £9 million for the NIHR ARC East of England, following a successful bid to improve care for mental health, ageing, dementia, learning disabilities, palliative and end-of-life care and for people with multiple conditions.

Focused research projects are being planned to help people in Great Yarmouth and Waveney, Peterborough and Fenland, Stevenage and Thurrock. The Collaboration will also act as national co-lead with the ARC South London for applied research in mental health as well as palliative and end of life care.

Professor Peter Beresford, Professor Gill Green and Dr Ewen Speed, from Essex’s School of Health and Social Care, will be collaborating with colleagues from the universities of East Anglia (UEA), Cambridge and Hertfordshire in developing new and innovative approaches to patient and public involvement.

The Essex academics will be involved in the ARC theme of ‘Inclusive Involvement in Research for Practice-led Health and Social Care (IIRP)’, which is led by Professor Fiona Poland at UEA.

Professor Beresford said: "This is one of the biggest opportunities that has yet happened to advance inclusive and effective opportunities in research. With its close links with national user-led organisations, the University of Essex will have a central role to play in this exciting initiative.”

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.”

Hosted by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT), the NIHR ARC East of England is a partnership with the Universities of Cambridge, East Anglia, Hertfordshire and Essex together with regional providers of health and social care services, supported by the Eastern Academic Health Science Network. It will take forward work from the predecessor NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC EoE), which has supported the region with research for 11 years.

Professor Peter Jones, director for the NIHR ARC East of England and CPFT non-executive director said: “Thank you to all partners who ensured the success of our bid for the region, and shaped a plan to tackle health issues across the lifecourse in some of the most deprived areas. The ARC will build on the achievements of the NIHR CLAHRC EoE, working with an established network of health professionals, researchers and the public. Patients and carers will be involved in our research to make sure it is relevant and meets a wide range of health needs, from young children to frail elderly. We will also fund training for health and social care professionals, and support NHS frontline staff to change practice with research, ensuring care and treatments are effective and provide good value.”

CPFT chief executive Tracy Dowling said: “The Trust is proud to host the ARC for East of England as they continue to make a difference and improve lives through research. As a research active NHS Trust, CPFT has achieved record performance this year helping over 1000 more people take part in studies and is in the UK’s top three NHS Trusts for mental health research. Supporting the ARC we will continue to offer the people we care for more opportunities to shape and take part in research.”

The ARC will work to engage and involve under-represented communities in health and social care research and develop community-led approaches to solve problems.  Applied research projects will bring together patient-led organisations, NHS trusts, local authorities, regional sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) universities, charities, and industry partners.

Operating in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire and Essex, the ARC will develop a regional research workforce to continue innovating and improving health and social care services. Research findings will be shared widely and translated into practice over five years.