Communities with the greatest health challenges across the region, including Hertfordshire, 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.
The government has announced a £9 million investment for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaborations (ARC) east of England, including, following a successful bid to improve care for mental health, ageing and multimorbidity, dementia, palliative and end-of-life care and prevention and early detection in health and social care. Focused research projects are being planned to help people in Stevenage in Hertfordshire, as well as other towns in the county and across the east of England. 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.
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.”
University of Hertfordshire projects will include research into childhood obesity rates in Hertfordshire, in collaboration with Hertfordshire County Council, to help develop a strategy that supports communities in maintaining a healthy weight long-term.
John Senior, Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hertfordshire and ARC Board member, commented: “I am delighted that the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration East of England partnership has secured £9 million to take forward its research programmes for the benefit of specific communities in the region. In particular, the University of Hertfordshire will continue to play a very active role though providing leads for three of the theme areas addressing ageing and multimorbidity, prevention and early detection in health and social care problems and promoting the inclusive involvement in research in order to deliver on these identified priorities.”
Jim McManus, Director of Public Health, Hertfordshire County Council. Commented: “I’m delighted to have supported this programme, which I believe is nationally significant because not only will it put research at the heart of improving health and care service, but it includes prevention and social care which other programmes may not. It also has specific focus on Stevenage, one of our Boroughs with significant challenges in improving health.”
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 struggle 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.”
The NIHR ARC East of England is supported among others by East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust and Hertfordshire County Council Public Health.
Hosted by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT), the NIHR ARC East of England is a partnership with the Universities of Herfordshire, Cambridge, East Anglia 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.
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.
For more information and to get involved contact the ARC team on 01223 465189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.