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York’s research to play a major role in the NHS's long-term plan with two new strategic partnerships

Posted on 11 July 2019

The University of York is at the heart of two strategic partnerships to tackle the greatest health challenges in Yorkshire and the Humber, and the North East and North Cumbria.

Health Minister Nicola Blackwood has announced the creation of 15 Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) across the UK, representing an investment of £135m. The University of York is a key partner in two ARCs.

The Yorkshire and Humber ARC will be led by York’s strategic partner at the Bradford Institute for Health Research (BIHR). The North East North Cumbria ARC will be hosted by York’s strategic partner at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust. Both ARCs have been awarded £9m over the next five years, with additional contributions from other strategic partners across the region, including universities, the NHS, local authorities, voluntary organisations, charities and businesses. The University of York will be pivotal in bringing together the work of these two ARCs to address health and care inequalities across the region.

The Yorkshire and Humber ARC recognises the central roles of early years and prevention, and the importance of good mental health. These ARC themes will be led by Professors Kate Pickett and Simon Gilbody of the Department of Health Sciences. The York expertise in health economics is also recognised, with Dr Laura Bojke providing co-leadership for the ARC.


Professor Pickett said: “We’re delighted to be collaborating with colleagues and communities throughout Yorkshire and the Humber, working together to tackle some of our region's most critical health issues.

“Our ARC will be a powerful force to stimulate applied health and care research to improve services and wellbeing, as well as contributing knowledge of international significance and relevance.”

Professor Gilbody added “We know that early years and prevention are vital, and that there is no health without mental health. We are delighted that the York expertise in these areas will drive innovation and research for the benefit of people in the region’.

The Yorkshire and Humber ARC will include 44 NHS organisations, 15 local authorities and 10 Universities which will prioritise health issues including older people with frailty, healthy childhood, urgent care and mental ill health for its research.


The Director of Yorkshire and Humber ARC, Professor John Wright, said: “Our ARC will support people-powered research that aims to improve health and well-being for our communities. Our themes of healthy childhood, mental health, older people and urgent care are the priorities that have been identified by our NHS partners and the public and will ensure our patients benefit from cutting-edge innovation.”

The North East North Cumbria ARC will address improvements in health and well-being, focusing on the prevention of poor health, staying healthy with long-term conditions, supporting children and families, inequalities across communities, using new technology and information to improve lives and integrating health and social care for physical and mental health difficulties. It is the first time that the North East and North Cumbria has received this funding. The ARC will help develop a new team of 23 junior and 11 senior trainee researchers working across universities, healthcare and social care to improve the quality of life for people in the region.

The theme focused on integrating health and social care for physical and mental health difficulties will be co-led by Professor Joe Reilly of the Department of Health Sciences, with contributions from Professor Christina van der Feltz-Cornelis, Professor David Ekers, Professor Martin Webber of Department of Social Policy and Social Work, and Professor Rachel Churchill of the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination. Professor Churchill is also contributing to the Science of Knowledge Implementation and Mobilisation theme for this ARC.


The Co-Director of North East North Cumbria ARC, Professor Eileen Kaner, said: “We are excited about receiving this funding because of the new opportunities it will bring to improve the health and wellbeing of people in the area. Our region has challenges due to its geography and there are more health problems that need to be addressed than other parts of the country. Therefore, it is apt that we have been asked by the NIHR to take a national lead on prevention and also on health inequalities.

“The ARC funding allows researchers to focus on the biggest health and social issues in our area and develop real solutions that reflect the needs and views of people living here. Much of the work will focus on the lives of people in the community rather than in hospital, especially people with common long-term physical and mental health problems.”


And Professor Joe Reilly, Deputy Theme Lead for Integrating Physical Health, Mental Health and Social Care at the North East and North Cumbria ARC, added: “I’m delighted that the University of York is making an essential contribution to both the Yorkshire and Humber, and North East ARC’s, in partnership with Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.

“In the North East we have an outstanding opportunity to cut across the traditional health and social care divides to place the best quality evidence, implementation research and evaluation at the centre of mental health care improvement, tackling the challenges of truly integrating care pathways and delivering real and sustainable change.”