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This will see direct benefits to patients’ health

£9 Million Boost to South West Health Research

A partnership that carries out health research in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, with direct benefits to patients’ health and NHS care delivery, has secured a further £9m 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 and is and is a partnership between the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth and NHS organisations across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset. Since 2008 NIHR PenCLAHRC has conducted and supported projects which have had a significant impact on patient care and the way in which services are delivered. In 2018 The NIHR launched a new competition to designate and fund NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (NIHR ARCs), a new approach to the NIHR CLAHRCs of previous years. PenCLAHRC submitted their application to the NIHR to secure designation and funding for five years as an NIHR ARC in autumn 2018, and were informed of their success during January this year.

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.
Health Minister Nicola Blackwood said: “As the population grows and demand on the NHS increases, it is paramount we develop the next generation of technologies and improve the way we work to ensure the NHS continues to offer world-leading care.

“The UK has a proud history of cutting edge health research and by supporting the great minds in health and social care, this funding has the potential to unlock solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing healthcare and revolutionise the way patients access treatments in the future.”

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 and the plotting of ‘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 took 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. This Patient Public Involvement (PPI) activity will continue to be a key component of NIHR PenCLAHRC activities over the next five years.

Professor Stuart Logan, Director of NIHR PenCLAHRC, commented: “We are delighted to have secured funding for the NIHR-ARC which will allow us to build on what has been achieved by PenCLAHRC. This award is a tribute the fantastic work carried out by our staff and partners over the last 10 years. These resources will enable us to generate and mobilise research evidence to improve people’s health and the services they use. We will continue to be driven by our partnership with patients and members of the public, clinicians and NHS organisations to ensure that we focus on what really matters.”

Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter, said: “I’m thrilled that PenCLAHRC has secured this hugely significant funding for a third time. It’s a coup for the south West, but most importantly, it’s a benefit to patients, as this research is designed to have positive impact on their treatment and care. I can’t wait to see what this yields in the years ahead.”

Prof Chris Whitty, NIHR Lead and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Health and Social Care, said: "The unique local collective approach at each NIHR Applied Research Collaboration will support applied health and care research that responds to, and meets, the needs of local patients, and local health and care systems. The network will also be able to tackle health priorities at a national level.

“The 15 new NIHR Applied Research Collaborations will ensure that we grow applied health and care research in every region in England. The additional funding announced today means we will ensure that our world-leading research is turned into real benefits for patients and ensure the NIHR Applied Research Collaborations work together to have national-level impact.”


Case study 1: Home-based heart rehabilitation programme for heart failure patients
A new rehabilitation programme which helps heart failure patients achieve better quality of life from the comfort of their own homes will now be rolled out at four NHS centres across the UK.
The Rehabilitation Enablement in Chronic Heart Failure (REACH-HF) is a new, evidence-informed, self-help manual for people with heart failure and their caregivers to help them manage their condition using the principles of cardiac rehabilitation. The programme, developed by the NIHR CLAHRC in South West Peninsula, has been shown to significantly improve quality of life, lead to better health outcomes for patients and is cost-effective to deliver in the NHS.
Four NHS trusts have now been identified as “beacon” sites, to roll out the findings from the previous trial to see whether the benefits to quality of life seen in the trial also apply to real-world healthcare settings. It will mean the programme can be refined, monitored and evaluated before it is extended further. The sites are: University College Hospitals London NHS Foundation Trust, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Gloucestershire Care Services, and Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust.


Case study 2: The introduction of Tranexamic Acid in all ambulance services
NIHR-funded research had shown that tranexamic acid (TXA) - a blood-clotting medicine - can reduce the risk of death from bleeding by as much as 30%. The team at the NIHR CLAHRC South West Peninsula worked with the South West Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and acute trusts, resulting in all emergency ambulances across Devon, Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, Somerset and Dorset carrying TXA and all hospital trusts introducing it into their emergency departments, as well as developing local guidelines and protocols for its use.
As a result of this successful implementation, the use of TXA was incorporated into the Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Liaison Committee (JRCALC) National Guidelines for use across the UK. All emergency ambulance services across England now carry TXA, saving an estimated 400 lives a year in the UK.

Date: 11 July 2019

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