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09 August 2013

Local health research to benefit from national investment to tackle major health challenges

Health researchers in the West Country have been given a share of £124 million from the Government to enable them to tackle the area's most pressing health problems.

This investment, from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), will help ensure patients benefit from new treatments and techniques which could revolutionise future healthcare. It is hoped the financial boost will stimulate the research economy and attract more research funding in the future.

The money has been awarded over five years to 13 pioneering research teams across the country. Each team, now known as NIHR Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs), is working on a number of innovative projects designed to address long term conditions and public health challenges.

The team in the West of England, known as CLAHRC West, which has been awarded £9 million, is hosted by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and brings together our universities, local authorities, NHS Hospital Trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups to focus on improving health and healthcare for local people.

Director of CLAHRC West, Jenny Donovan, Professor of Social Medicine at the University of Bristol, said: "This is a fantastic boost to health research and healthcare in this area and an acknowledgement of the collaborative work that we are doing.

"Together we aim to ensure that the health of people in our area is as good as the best anywhere, and that the care they need is provided fairly and at the right time and place. We will do this by conducting the highest quality and most relevant health-related research in health integration teams made up of public health and NHS specialists working with applied health scientists, commissioners and patients."

Health integration teams (HITs) have been established in the West to tackle important issues in public health, such as reducing childhood injuries and infections, and creating healthier environments, and to improve care for  chronic health conditions, such as dementia, painful joints and eyesight problems.

Health Minister, Lord Howe, who announced the significant investment from the NIHR, said: "This is great news for patients - this funding could potentially help the development of ground breaking treatments which could revolutionise care. With a growing elderly population, the need for innovative and effective solutions has never been more important.

"We want the UK to lead the world in terms of health research and this announcement underlines that commitment. It is vital that we invest in health research, not only to create the opportunities for health research to grow - but also to help our economy thrive so we can compete in the global race." 

Professor Dame Sally C. Davies, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor at the Department of Health, said: "I'm delighted we have today announced the successful schemes and I'm very much looking forward to hearing updates on how patients will benefit from this research.

"The teams are following a strong tradition of success as the National Institute for Health Research has a proven record track record of world-class health research in the NHS. Supporting our leading researchers is so important and these NIHR CLAHRCs will link the NHS, universities, and other relevant organisations providing care for patients in what will be ground-breaking work to improve the lives of thousands of patients across the country."

Organisations collaborating on CLAHRC West are:

Higher Education Institutions:
University of Bath
University of Bristol
University of the West of England

NHS Trusts:
Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust
Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucester Clinical Commissioning Groups
North Bristol NHS Trust
Public Health England (Avon Gloucester and Wiltshire)
University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust

Local Authorities (for public health):
Bath & North East Somerset Council
Bristol City Council (BCC)
Gloucester City Council
North Somerset Council
South Gloucestershire Council
Swindon Council
Wiltshire Council

Bristol Health Partners (Bristol HP)
West of England Academic Health Science Network (WEAHSN)

Find out more about research at UH Bristol