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Jenny Donovan on progress with NIHR CLAHRC West

30 January 2014

We have had a very busy few months setting up the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration in Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West (NIHR CLAHRC West), which officially started on 1 January 2014. CLAHRCs are approved and funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) in collaboration with local NHS trusts, local authorities and universities.

The Health Integration Teams (HITs) approved by Bristol Health Partners were integral to the success of the CLAHRC West application to NIHR. The panel "commended the development of the applicants' HIT working model and the achievements of the partnership to date", and "agreed that the implementation plans were strong and highly-praised the development of the HITs".

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Sarah Purdy as CLAHRC West's Deputy Director. Sarah is Reader in Primary Health Care at the University of Bristol, and brings a strong track record of leading complex research programmes, as well as her experience as academic lead for the local NIHR Primary Care Research Network and practising GP.

Richard Hocking will join us as Manager in April. Several research appointments have been, and are being, made - mostly so far in the Evidence and Ethnography themes - and many of these staff will also start in April. Further appointments, particularly for researchers with quantitative skills, will be announced soon. In April or May we hope to be up and running in our new location: the ninth floor of Whitefriars, a city-centre location in Bristol on Lewins Mead.

The strategy for CLAHRC West is that NIHR resources will be used to fund researchers in key methodological areas who will undertake high quality, robust research in collaboration with colleagues in the NHS, local authority and other university partner organisations. There will be calls for research proposals and ideas that will be evaluated by panels comprising academics and representatives of the partner organisations, to ensure that the research undertaken by CLAHRCwest is informed by the latest evidence, and reaches high levels of quality and relevance to patient outcomes and public health.

When CLAHRC West is fully operational, all types of applied health research will be considered, from reviews and syntheses of existing evidence, through routine data analysis, pilot/feasibility studies, data collection to evaluate services or other initiatives, to studies aiming to understand patient and practitioner experiences - all with the explicit aim of improving patient outcomes and/or public health, and including active patient/public involvement. The research must be applied health research and within the broad areas of chronic health conditions and public health. Particularly welcome will be research that takes a prominent patient- or public health-centred approach. This will be facilitated by the Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) team, led by David Evans, which will be co-ordinated across CLAHRC West and the West of England Academic Health Science Network (WEAHSN).

The next six months or so will be taken up with appointing staff, setting up procedures, beginning some research and establishing relationships with partners across the west country. Keep looking for announcements about the latest developments and calls from CLAHRC West.

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