The Innovation Agency is part of a new network focusing on applied health and social care research.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) new Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) are based on the same regions as England’s 15 Academic Health Science Networks and the Innovation Agency will work closely with the North West Coast ARC.
Each NIHR ARC will be made up of health and care providers, commissioners, local authorities, universities, industry and charities all working together to address specific health and care issues. They will be formally launched in October and in the North West Coast the ARC represents a £9 million investment over the next five years.
The population of the North West Coast faces stark health inequalities. Average life expectancy can vary across local authority areas by up to 12 years, and healthy life expectancies vary by over twenty years.
The ARC NWC will be hosted by NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (LCCG), bringing together partners including the Innovation Agency to address disparities in the health of the region.
The research funding will help to develop health solutions for the future, enable greater independence for patients about how they manage their healthcare and improve the health of communities.
Several universities within the collaboration will act as hubs for facilitating co-production, research innovation and implementation amongst the 50 partners already signed up. Co-produced research will take place and be implemented across South Cumbria, Lancashire, Cheshire and Merseyside. A Steering Board of senior management representatives from the collaboration’s partners and public advisers will oversee projects during the five year programme.
ARCs have evolved from previous research investment in regional research bodies called CLAHRCs, which have established infrastructure, connections and novel methodologies to use research in tackling major challenges facing local health services. ARCs will be an evolution of CLAHRCs and focus on implementation to ensure a beneficial impact on both patients and communities.
Mark Gabbay, a Liverpool GP and Professor of General Practice at The University of Liverpool, has been appointed as the Director of ARC NWC. He said: The scheme aims to support research to tackle a number of key areas of need highlighted by the NIHR Futures of Health report, including: the need to increase research in public health, social care and primary care; the challenges of an ageing society; mult-morbidity; and managing the increasing demands placed on our health and care system.
“It will support the development, delivery and implementation of research into practice, enabling real and positive change for patients and the public, with an overarching focus on reducing health inequalities. We will ensure that our programmes are attuned to our partners’ priorities across the region and the needs of the varied communities they serve. We will examine existing evidence, identify areas of uncertainty and conflicting findings, undertake new research and evaluate implementation.
“Co-production is key to ARC NWC; projects will involve and in many cases be driven by partners and the public throughout the research life-cycle. This ensures research is relevant to local communities’ needs and shortens the delay between generating research findings and putting them into practice.”
Innovation Agency Chief Executive Dr Liz Mear said: “The Innovation Agency is delighted to be a partner and ongoing supporter of the ARC NWC.
“The CLAHRC and the Innovation Agency have worked together on a number of programmes to improve healthcare across the region, especially in the area of stroke prevention and genomic testing. Our work together to address and improve population health will continue to be a shared theme for the future.”