The NIHR funds local collaborations to support applied health and care research and research on implementation of health and care evidence into day-to-day practice. These are called NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs).
About Applied Research Collaborations
NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) support applied health and care research that responds to, and meets, the needs of local populations and local health and care systems. The ARCs, announced in July 2019, aim to improve outcomes for patients and the public; improve the quality, delivery and efficiency of health and care services; and increase the sustainability of the health and care system both locally and nationally.
These 15 local partnerships between NHS providers, universities, charities, local authorities, Health Innovation Networks (HINs) and other organisations undertake implementation research to increase the rate at which research findings are implemented into practice.
The ARCs undertake research on a number of areas of need highlighted by the NIHR Futures of Health report, including: the challenges of an ageing society; multimorbidity; and the increasing demands placed on our health and care system.
The £135 million funding also aims to deliver national-level impact through significant collaboration between the ARCs, with individual ARCs providing national leadership within their fields of expertise. The five-year investment has been extended by 18 months until 31 March 2026.
The 15 ARCs are
- NIHR ARC East of England
- NIHR ARC East Midlands
- NIHR ARC Greater Manchester
- NIHR ARC Kent, Surrey and Sussex
- NIHR ARC North East and North Cumbria
- NIHR ARC North Thames
- NIHR ARC Northwest London
- NIHR ARC North West Coast
- NIHR ARC Oxford and Thames Valley
- NIHR ARC South London
- NIHR ARC South West Peninsula
- NIHR ARC Wessex
- NIHR ARC West
- NIHR ARC West Midlands
- NIHR ARC Yorkshire and Humber
National leadership areas
Each NIHR ARC undertakes research on a range of themes. The ARCs also work together on a number of national leadership areas. Research projects and collaborations between the ARCs drive progress in applied health research and implementation science in areas of national priority.
National priority areas
The NIHR ARCs national priority areas are seven areas of applied health and care research that benefit from £13.125 million NIHR funding over three years to deliver ‘real world’ impact.
- Adult social care and social work
- Healthy ageing, including dementia and frailty
- Child health and maternity
- Health and care inequalities
- Mental health, including children and young people’s mental health
- Multiple long term conditions
- Prevention, including behavioural risk factors
Working together the NIHR ARCs will look to develop evidence to inform decision making, enable effective implementation and change practice in these areas. The programme brings together the 15 regional ARCs from across England to work with partners, patients and the public to deliver collective projects that investigate and tackle these most pressing health and care problems.
Supporting the national pandemic response
COVID-19 transformed the way health and care services work together across boundaries and brought into sharp focus the health inequalities across our diverse communities. The
Beneficial Changes Network (BCN) was established to share and understand the ways in which people and systems have responded to COVID-19 through innovation and collaboration to support the adoption and spread of potentially beneficial changes to service delivery. Each ARC received £125,000 over approximately a year to work in partnership with their local HIN on synthesising and sharing existing evidence, identifying potential evidence gaps and defining questions for further research and/or evaluation. The ARCs were involved in over 400 COVID-19 projects during the pandemic.
Collaborating with HINs to support post-pandemic priorities
The NHS Insights Prioritisation Programme (NIPP) was set up to accelerate the evaluation and implementation of promising innovations selected for their potential to support the evolution of post-pandemic ways of working, build service resilience and deliver ongoing benefits to patients. ARCs and HINs received £4.2m for collaborative projects.
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