Professor Stuart Logan, director of NIHR PenCLAHRC

£10 Million Boost to South West Health Research

A partnership that supports research in Devon and Cornwall with direct benefits to patients’ health and NHS care delivery has secured £10m in funding for the next five years.

The National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care in the South West Peninsula (NIHR PenCLAHRC) was established as one of the first nine CLAHRCs in the country in 2008.

It was a partnership between the University of Exeter, Plymouth University, the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, and the NHS in Devon and Cornwall. The recent funding means that the partnership between the two universities and the NHS, now including the NHS in Somerset as well as Devon and Cornwall, will extend this work for another five years.

Since 2008 NIHR PenCLAHRC has supported projects which have had a significant impact on patient care and the way in which services are delivered. It has also helped to draw in other grant funding resulting in a doubling of health service research funding coming to the South West in 2011/12 compared to 2007/08.

A central part of the way the collaboration works is to conduct research based on questions from the people directly affected by the issues under investigation: doctors, nurses, therapists and, importantly, patients.

Project highlights include: enabling the implementation of a cheap, easily available drug which is delivered by paramedics to reduce the risk of death from haemorrhage after trauma; developing an intervention to reduce obesity in school children; creating partnerships to improve health and wellbeing and reduce inequalities in the most deprived neighbourhoods; risk assessment tools to help GPs identify and quantify a patient’s risk of cancer based on their symptoms; the plotting of so-called ‘care pathways’ to ensure that victims of stroke receive a drug vital to a fuller recovery within an effective timescale.

A particular area of strength in which NIHR PenCLAHRC has taken a national lead is the meaningful involvement of patients and the public in research. Patients and members of the public take an active role in research, helping to set the research agenda, working with researchers to design and conduct studies and helping to make sure that the results get used in practice. NIHR PenCLAHRC will host an international conference on the benefits of public engagement in research in November, and this Patient Public Involvement (PPI) activity will continue to be a key component of NIHR PenCLAHRC activities in the next five years.

The collaboration will focus on five main themes: mental health and dementia; diagnostics and stratified medicine (where treatments are ‘individualised’ to the needs of patients); health people, healthy environments; person-centred care; and evidence for policy and practice.

Professor Stuart Logan, Director of NIHR PenCLAHRC, commented: “We are delighted to have secured funding for another five years, and my congratulations and thanks go to all colleagues who have contributed to this result. This means that we can continue to invest effort and resources in projects which will produce a step-change in the quantity and quality of patient-focused research. We believe that this work will lead to improved health outcomes for patients and the public by increasing the capacity of clinical professionals to use and generate research evidence, and by helping to change the culture of health organisations so that the use of evidence-based research becomes normal business.”

Professor Logan, who is also Director of the Institute for Health Research at the University of Exeter Medical School, added: “We have already supported projects which have had a positive impact on patient care and professional practice not just in the South West, but nationally and internationally. We are particularly grateful for the support we are receiving from NHS organisations and the new Academic Health Science Network with which we will be working very closely. Involvement of NHS organisations helps to ensure that the research actually changes patient care. We have also had fantastic commitment from the University of Exeter and Plymouth University who have both agreed to make substantial investments to support this work over the next five years.”

Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter, said: "This funding is absolutely fantastic news for patients in the South West, as well as nationally and internationally. The work carried out by PenCLAHRC involves many of our researchers in our Medical School and elsewhere in the University. It supports them in making discoveries that have a direct impact on care, and in the way healthcare is delivered in a challenging environment. This innovation is desperately needed to ensure we can respond to changing needs such as increased life expectancy. In short, this funding is extremely well-spent on research which will yield measurable benefits into the future."

Chairman of South West Health Innovation Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen said: "Congratulations to Professor Logan and his team for securing this funding for a further five years. The aim of our new Academic Health Science Network is to support clinical research and its translation into practical innovation which will benefit patients across the region. We were delighted to support the NIHR PenCLAHRC bid to build on the success of this collaboration and look forward to working with all the partners over the next five years to further improve healthcare across the region and the health of the population."

 

Date: 8 August 2013

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