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Priorities for local NHS research and innovation revealed

Published: 08 May 2019

Results of a landmark consultation identifying priorities for local NHS research and innovation in different regional areas in England has been published.

The National Survey of Local Innovation and Research Needs of the NHS was commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I), the NIHR and the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN).

The report presents findings from a survey of local health stakeholders, including clinical leaders, managers and directors, within each of the England’s 15 AHSN regions, to identify the local NHS innovation and research needs.

The project aims to help the AHSNs, research funders and research practitioners ensure their work will address the specific local NHS challenges and address the health and care needs of the local population.

It follows publication of the NHSE/I and NIHR paper ‘12 Actions to Support and Apply Research in the NHS’, which highlighted the importance of articulating both national and local priorities - to ensure that research and innovation has the best impact for patients, health and social care practitioners and the health service.

The newly published report includes findings from qualitative interviews with 61 people and a further 250 responses to an online questionnaire.

Despite differences in regional priorities in each area, some common themes emerged which reflect the wider challenges facing the NHS and align with the priorities identified in the NHS Long Term Plan.

These included the need for innovation and research around:

  • Developing the current and future workforce
  • Delivering mental health services and providing care for patients with mental health issues
  • Integrating services to provide for patients with complex needs such as – multimorbidities, frailty, and for older people and socially isolated people or communities

The findings will be used to facilitate further discussions involving patients and the public and the research community to refine the priorities and better understand the local context and challenges.

Each AHSN region will publish a statement of their local innovation and research needs.

The NIHR’s Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs) and Local Clinical Research Networks (LCRNs) will consider the priorities in designing their future work programmes.

Dr Louise Wood, Director of Science, Research and Evidence at the Department of Health and Social Care, said: "This is an important initiative, the results of which will help shape research and innovation of most relevance to patients and the health and care system.

 “We are grateful to all interviewees and those who responded to the survey for their insights. We will consider very carefully the role that NIHR, working with NHS England and NHS Improvement, can play to address the key research and innovation priorities identified and consider how we can best support access to, and dissemination of, key research and innovation findings.”

The project was conducted by ComRes, an independent research agency, on behalf of the AHSN Network, NHSE/I and NIHR.

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