University of Hertfordshire appointed as an evaluation partner for local Public Health intervention schemes across the UK

10 September 2020

The University of Hertfordshire has been named as one of four academic research partners for a new NIHR (National Institute Health Research) scheme to evaluate local authority public health schemes that aim to improve health in local communities and reduce health inequalities in the UK. The University of Hertfordshire based team is joined by co-applicants at Ulster University, the University of Birmingham and the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Part of the NIHR’s Public Health Research Programme, the four new Public Health Interventions Responsive Studies Teams (PHIRSTs) will connect with local authorities to facilitate, guide and evaluate their non-NHS public health interventions schemes. The programme will enable local authorities to access research expertise and build further evidence bases for innovative new health intervention schemes.

The University will be working with Leeds City Council in the first instance along with a range of their partners and stakeholders, to evaluate the remote delivery of drug and alcohol services in the city during the covid-19 pandemic.

Professor Katherine Brown, Principal Investigator of the UH led PHIRST, commented: “The national strategic agenda for public health evaluation research has never been more important as we face ongoing issues as a result of the pandemic. We are excited to begin working with local authorities across the country as one of four UK teams selected by the NIHR to become a Public Health Interventions Responsive Studies Team. It is testament to the considerable breadth and depth of expertise at UH and our collaborators that we have been appointed.”

Professor Wendy Wills, Director of the Centre for Research in Public Health and Community Care and Co-Principal Investigator added: “The evidence generated by the PHIRSTs will help to ensure effective and cost-effective public health interventions are identified and where appropriate rolled out in other areas nationally.”

The other Public Health Interventions Responsive Studies Teams will also be working with local authorities to evaluate the following projects:

  • free school breakfast clubs in Hammersmith and Fulham
  • enhanced assistance to get people into employment in Fife
  • removal of advertising unhealthy food from the transport system in Yorkshire.

Notes to Editors

About the University of Hertfordshire

The University of Hertfordshire brings the transformational impact of higher education to all. Its students, staff and businesses consistently reach their full potential. Through 300 flexible degree programmes, cutting-edge research projects and powerful business partnerships, they think bigger, stand out and positively impact local, national and international communities.

About NIHR

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

  • Funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care
  • Engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research
  • Attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future
  • Invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services
  • Partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR commissions applied health research to benefit the poorest people in low- and middle-income countries, using Official Development Assistance funding.


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