New boost for healthcare partnership

  • Date

    Fri 6 Nov 20

John Niland, wearing a blue suit and white shirt, with arms folded

Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster has given thanks to the outgoing CEO of regional healthcare provider Provide, which has helped support student employability and research.

Professor Forster has thanked founding CEO John Niland, praising Provide’s investment in its partnership with the University, as he welcomed new CEO Mark Heasman this week.

John Niland, who graduated from Essex with a BA Government and Politics in 1985, has stepped down after more than a decade at the helm. During his time in charge, he helped our community take on key health challenges by developing links with Provide across research, employability and knowledge exchange activities. Philanthropic donations to Essex supporting joint activities over this period are approaching £500,000.

Professor Forster said: “I would like to thank John and Provide for their outstanding commitment to health and wellbeing of individuals and communities in our region.

“Their significant investment in our Provide-Essex partnership is testament to this commitment, which is making a real difference to the quality of life in the east of England.

“It has been a great pleasure for me to engage with John in his position as CEO and I would also like to welcome his successor, Mark Heasman.

“We are committed to continuing the great work and collaboration in further enhancing health and wellbeing across the east of England, recognising the impact that our graduates and researchers can play in these efforts.”

Provide, a Community Interest Company, delivers a range of NHS services, including community nursing, stroke rehabilitation and specialist services for children and people with long term conditions. Its significant support for Essex has helped students make the most of their studies and gain valuable workplace skills, and supported innovative research that can change lives. This includes the use of artificial intelligence to meet growing demand and collaborations to improve service delivery.

Highlights of the Essex-Provide partnership:

  • Provide has helped enhance employment opportunities for students through 12-month internships, bursaries for students to attend a climate change summer school, and contributing towards the cost of PhD studentships researching strength assessment and training in pulmonary rehabilitation.
  • A seven-year collaboration between Provide, Essex County Council and Dr Martin Harris, from Essex Business School, and Professor Nigel South, from the Department of Sociology, has facilitated the development of managerial capacity for implementing, monitoring and evaluating service innovation in community health and social care services, particularly those offered to vulnerable patient groups.
  • The partnership also secured Innovate UK funding for a collaborative three-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project, to look at how Artificial Intelligence can help the NHS cope with the increasing demands of the twenty-first century, by catering for people’s changing needs of how they use services.
  • The KTP has seeded further innovative work such as the CareoBot project, which is developing cognitive robotic companions to provide proactive, user-centred assistance in care homes. The project focuses on enabling elderly people to remain independent and developing robotic companions for healthcare delivery, logistics management and enhancing productivity.
  • In response to COVID-19, Provide has also endorsed the University’s research to tackle health challenges posed by the pandemic. This research includes detection of a cough to diagnose the disease, a scalable mobile-health approach for the detection of acute respiratory symptoms of COVID-19; and robotic cleaning of public spaces to help eliminate the virus.