£9 million for research to improve health and care

Communities with the greatest health challenges across the East of England are set to benefit from government funding awarded to run applied research projects, which can transform the lives of millions of people managing health issues.

As part of  the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaborations (ARC) in the East of England, the University of East Anglia (UEA) will benefit from a share in £9 million 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.

Professor Eneida Mioshi, deputy director for the NIHR ARC East of England and Professor of Dementia Care Research at UEA said: “The ARC will build upon work developed by the NIHR CLAHRC EoE, with increased participation of  UEA academics involved in the ARC. This means further strengthening of UEA applied research work across the eastern region both with health and care service provides as well as other universities. Our vision is to work together with regional partners to support translation of research findings into practice locally and promote capacity building of staff - for the benefit of our communities over five years.”

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.

Geoff Brown, chief executive of Healthwatch Hertfordshire said: “It’s great to see the future of applied research in the region secured with such a strong focus on involving patients and the people we represent. This is a truly collaborative approach to help communities in our region where people struggle financially, lack opportunities, have multiple illnesses or stuggle to get the care they need. We will work together to plan and carry out health and social care research in the best possible ways.”

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.

For more information and to get involved contact the ARC team on 01223 465189 clahrcoffice@cpft.nhs.uk.