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Exploring how to support local government health research


Published: 22 March 2022

Version: 1.0 March 2022

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We recognise that innovation is happening in local authorities all the time. We want to explore how current, or new, systems could be developed at a local level to support sustainable and influential research activity.

To help enable this, the Public Health Research (PHR) Programme funded the following projects under the NIHR Local Authority Research System call (20/30 and 20/54) in Summer 2020. This funding scheme provided specific funding (up to £50,000 per site) for 14 sites across the UK to explore how a local authority might form the basis of a research system that will enable that authority to become research active. A summary of the findings from the Local Authority Research Systems projects is available upon request.

  1. Support and enabling health research in local authority: an exploratory study (SERLA) This project aims to find out what the factors, relationships, and processes are that contribute towards generating research evidence that is of relevance to local public health and shape its practice.
  2. Designing and implementing a research infrastructure in Newcastle City Council to maximise the effectiveness and efficiency of local decision making and enable active participation in the North East and North Cumbria Applied Research CollaborativeThis project aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of the current ways in which research and analytical roles are utilised within Newcastle City Council, and designing a research infrastructure that is able to generate new research and critically assess and mobilise existing research.
  3. Scoping a local authority research system (LARS) for Bradford This project explores the potential for, and what would be needed to develop, to create a local authority research system model for Bradford District.
  4. Local Authority Research Systems: exploring the will and readiness for research in Wakefield This project aims to explore the strengths that can be built on within Wakefield Council to create a stronger research culture.
  5. Developing a Local Authority Research System: Middlesbrough Council and Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council and Teesside University This project aims to examine what the barriers and facilitators are to councils and universities working together via a signed memorandum of understanding (MOU).
  6. Developing a Public Health Research System to Support Local Government in Kent This project aims to understand how to develop a system to support councils to use research evidence more effectively and to develop, usually in collaboration with university research departments, good quality applications for funding.
  7. Local Authority Research Systems: developing Doncaster Council’s road map to building greater organisational research capacity The project addresses four aims: to identify what steps are needed to move from pockets of research work to a research system with local authorities; are officers and members willing to pursue this work; what types of people do we need to apply for research funding; what resources do we need to set up a research system.
  8. Local Authority Research Systems – A qualitative study to inform the development of a South Gloucestershire Council wide research system This project aims to find out how to create a research system within South Gloucestershire Council.
  9. Barriers to health research at Blackpool Council - developing potential solutions using consensus methodology This project aims to explore how Blackpool Council can work with the NHS and local universities and what barriers need to be overcome.
  10. Local Authority Research Systems: identifying the capacity and infrastructure needs of Birmingham City Council This project aims to find out what new infrastructure or capacity building is needed to support research and the use of research findings by Birmingham City Council. The study also aims to understand how universities and other organisations that support research can work with local authorities to support their needs and enable the council to embed research in its work.
  11. Local Authority Research Systems Call The aim of this project is to explore research activities within Norfolk County Council, to understand more fully who is involved in research and what organisational structures, processes and practices may facilitate or limit research across all local authorities.
  12. Public Health; Plymouth Priorities (PHeePP) This project aims to enable public health council staff and university researchers to work together to identify the best ways for public health research to be developed and supported in Plymouth.
  13. Research-informed decision-making: learning from each other to develop research capacity and activity within South Tyneside Council whilst harnessing the benefits of a wider regional research support infrastructure This project seeks to understand how South Tyneside Council can increase its use of research evidence and increase its ability to conduct its own local research on impact of services it provides.
  14. Connecting Communities: Building Relationships - Improving decision-making and practice in Public Health and Social Care research by making the connections between Cardiff Council and Cardiff University The project aims to bring together key local stakeholders to enable the local authority to become research active, as well as investigating the links between public health and social care research to improve local decision making and practice.