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New centre is key to addressing health and social inequalities

Posted: 21/04/20

A visionary new centre is focused on addressing the health inequalities and medical needs of people in the North East and North Cumbria.

Newcastle Health Innovation Partners (NHIP) has been made one of only eight Academic Health Science Centres in the UK, bringing the region’s world-class research, NHS and city partners together.

Never before has it been more important to work together, as Newcastle Hospital’s effective operational plans for coronavirus have been informed by Newcastle University’s epidemiological experts. Hospital testing for the virus has also had support from University resources and expertise.

The region’s Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) involves Newcastle University, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle City Council, Academic Health Science Network and Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.

Professor David Burn, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Newcastle University’s Faculty of Medical Sciences, said the centre was key for giving the region’s population the best healthcare possible.

He said: “The health challenges faced by our region make the AHSC particularly important so that we can bring our population to levels of health enjoyed by the rest of the UK.

“The centre will catalyse work in making a significant improvement to the health, wealth and wellbeing of a population of 3.2 million people.

“We are stronger if we work together and the collaborative efforts taking place to do our best to protect people against coronavirus is a prime example of this.”

Health issues in the North East and North Cumbria are challenging as it has a diverse population and the highest rate of poverty, unemployment, poor health and early death in England.

Dame Jackie Daniel, Chief Executive of Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for Newcastle Hospitals, enabling close links between healthcare, our civic partners in the city and Newcastle University.

“It’s never been more important to build partnerships with our academic and city partners and our citywide response to the COVID-19 pandemic is testament to this.

“Looking into the future, the AHSC will bring more world-class research to the region, and enable the Trust to quickly translate early scientific research into treatments that patients here in the North East and North Cumbria will be able to benefit from first.”

AHSCs are awarded for five years and they have been jointly chosen by the NIHR and NHS England and NHS Improvement to help reduce health inequalities in the country.

Pat Richie, Chief Executive of Newcastle City Council, said: “The new centre is recognition of the close partnership working between Newcastle University, the City Council and the NHS to help people in the region.

“Our region has some of the country’s greatest health inequalities and the aim of this centre is to help address these by delivering new treatments, pioneering research and better workforce education.”

The centres are intended to speed up the time it takes the NHS to access new, better quality treatments and approaches to improving health due to the unique partnerships between researchers and NHS staff working on the frontline.

Simon Douglas, Joint Director of Research, Innovation and Clinical Effectiveness at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This centre is further evidence of the strength of our regional partnerships in research, and recognition for outstanding clinical provision and excellence in teaching standards.

“As the host organisation for the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC), CNTW are heavily invested in the contribution of research to influence real change and improvement in the health system and the AHSC award will ensure this is even further embedded within the region.”

Maria Roche, Interim Chief Executive Officer at the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria, added: “We look forward to playing a key implementation role as part of Newcastle Health Innovation Partners in translating the research outputs into commercial success and patient benefit, by supporting the evaluation, adoption and dissemination of these innovations at pace and scale.”