Major government funding boost to enhance patient care

People in the North East will benefit from new treatments and improved delivery of health and care services following a £28.4m boost for medical research and a focus on patient safety challenges. The funding, from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), will support specialist research facilities for scientists, where experimental medicine and patient safety research can thrive.

Ageing and health

A total of £23.1m has been given to Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) for its world-leading research in ageing and multiple long-term conditions.

The investment will support a five-year programme delivered by Collaborative Newcastle partners Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust to better understand and treat a range of conditions.

Professor Avan Sayer, Director of NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre and William Leech Professor of Geriatric Medicine at Newcastle University, said: “We are absolutely delighted with this NIHR Biomedical Research Centre award – our fourth successful application in national competition.

“The funding and BRC designation are testimony to the excellence of our research and strength of our partnership.

“Our vision is to transform lives through world-leading research in ageing and multiple long-term conditions and crucially the views of patients and local communities have been central to its development.

“One in four people in England are living with multiple long-term health conditions and whilst these can develop at any age, they become more common and burdensome in later life.

“This major investment will allow us to continue to address their adverse effects on health and give us the opportunity to develop the much-needed interdisciplinary researchers of the future here in Newcastle and the North East.”

This multi-million-pound funding, awarded following a competitive process, will support research in areas such as dementia, mental health and liver disease.

Patient safety research

Experts at Newcastle University and Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have also been awarded £5.3m by the NIHR to fund a Patient Safety Research Collaboration (PSRC).

The PSRC will deliver visible research that results in real-world, transformative change for patient safety and health outcomes for those with multiple long-term conditions (MLTCs).

It will employ an integrated structure to address NIHR patient safety challenges around clinical risk scores, effective patient safety practices and patient safety behaviours.

Professor Andy Husband, Head of the School of Pharmacy and Director of the PSRC, Newcastle University, said: “We will seek to understand how we can identify and minimise risk within patient groups and how we can improve care pathways.

“Our PSRC will be specifically focused on the use of medicines and polypharmacy and minimally invasive interventions and how we transfer patients between different care environments.

“Alongside this, we will look at how we use data and applications to support targeting of resources and redesign of current services to get the best possible outcomes for patients.”

Professor Neil Watson, Director of Pharmacy at Newcastle Hospitals, added: “Patient safety is our top priority at Newcastle Hospitals and is a key part of delivering high quality care.

“We are delighted to be one of just six NIHR Patient Safety Research Centres awarded funding in England.

“We’re looking forward to working with colleagues at Newcastle University within this newly created centre.”

Long-standing investment

Investing in the NIHR Biomedical Research Centres and Patient Safety Research Collaborations will contribute to increased economic growth in the North East, further strengthening collaborations between academics, clinicians, patients and the life sciences industry.

The PSRC will support the NHS to improve patient safety and reduce health inequalities, while the BRC will help boost advancements in medical treatments and technology and advance the ability to diagnose and treat illness.

Professor David Burn, Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University and Director for Newcastle Health Innovation Partners, said: “It is fantastic that the NIHR have continued their long-standing investment in Newcastle.

“This is further recognition of our outstanding research and our ability to take that research from discoveries in the laboratory through into new treatments in the NHS that benefit, not only our local population, but people nationally and internationally too.

“It also reflects the strength of our partnership working across the involved organisations, reinforcing our status as a designated Academic Health Science Centre:  Newcastle Health Innovation Partners”.

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