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An older woman being helped to climb stairs by a carer.

Ray Fitzpatrick, Professor of Public Health and Primary Care in the Health Services Research Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health, will lead a new research theme in community health and social care improvement, thanks to new funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). 

NIHR has announced a new £9 million investment for health and social care research across Oxford and the Thames Valley. The funding will be used to tackle some of the biggest issues facing health and social care in the region and to support implementation into practice, so patients can benefit directly.

The community health and social care improvement theme will focus on previously neglected areas in research such as community and social care services. Early research priorities will include support for carers of people with cognitive impairments or dementia and the role of novel technology to help vulnerable frail older people at home.

Professor Fitzpatrick said ‘The real excitement will be working with new local partners in service improvement, for example, public health and social care colleagues in Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust’s innovative Oxford Healthcare Improvement team.’

The investment in Oxford and the Thames Valley is part of a £135 million investment announced this week for 15 NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARC) across England. Each ARC will work with local and national partners to address some of the nation’s most pressing challenges faced by the health and care system over the next five years, including dementia, obesity and mental health.

The Applied Research Collaboration Oxford and Thames Valley (ARC OTV), launching in October 2019, will be jointly led by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Oxford. Other members of the collaboration include patient groups, charities, NHS trusts, local authorities, and NHS clinical commissioning groups across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, and Berkshire, as well as the University of Reading and Oxford Brookes University. 

Professor Chris Whitty, NIHR Lead and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Health and Social Care, said ‘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.’