Almost £9 million awarded for new NIHR ARC West Midlands to tackle biggest healthcare challenges

The new NIHR ARC West Midlands will tackle key healthcare issues through collaborative working

The University of Birmingham will be an academic partner for the new NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) West Midlands, hosted by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) and funded by the National Institute for Health Research.

Almost £9 million has been awarded to NIHR ARC West Midlands, which is one of 15 new centres across England that will begin operating in October for the next five years with the aim to tackle the key issues facing our healthcare system, including the pressures of an ageing population and the increasing demands on the NHS. 

The Universities of Birmingham, Warwick and Keele will be NIHR ARC West Midlands’ academic partners, with UHB and Birmingham Women's and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust the lead NHS organisations for the region.  

It will tackle key healthcare issues through collaborative working across these NHS Trusts, universities, the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network and other organisations in the West Midlands. It will build on the foundations of the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) West Midlands. 

Across England, the ARCs will help to solve some of the biggest issues facing health and social care over the next five years, helping to address the increasing demands on the NHS and give patients greater independence and choice about how they manage their healthcare. 

Professor Richard Lilford, ARC West Midlands Director and Professor of Public Health at Warwick Medical School (part of the University of Warwick), said: “Over the next five years the ARC will bring together the most dedicated researchers, public contributors and healthcare professionals from across the West Midlands.  

“Working closely with the Health Service, our collaboration is committed to generating the highest quality research which makes real improvements for patients and the public at every stage in their lives and we will share our findings across the country and beyond.” 

Baroness Blackwood, Minister for Innovation in the UK Department of Health and Social Care, 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.” 

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), added: “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.” 

The NIHR ARC West Midlands will have four main priorities: long term health conditions, acute care interfaces, integrated care in youth mental health, and maternity care. In addition, it will have two cross-cutting themes: organisational science and research methodology, informatics and rapid response. These needs have been identified following discussions with local communities and health and social care organisations. 

NIHR ARC West Midlands will work closely with Warwick Business School to assess barriers to service improvement, and how best these can be overcome.

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