September 2021
NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) newsletter
News from across the ARCs
National research collaboration launches project to prevent falls in older people
The FaLls EXercise Implementation (FLEXI) Study, a collaboration between NIHR ARC East Midlands, ARC South West Peninsula and ARC Greater Manchester, will evaluate the scaling up of the ground-breaking Falls Management Exercise (FaME) programme. Recently featured in a World Health Organization report, the FaME programme is a group-based, face-to-face, six-month exercise programme aimed at improving the strength and balance of people aged 65 and over.
Study to look at urban spaces and health inequalities
NIHR ARC North West Coast will be a partner in a new consortium to investigate the impact that nature can have in helping to prevent and reduce health inequalities in urban areas. The new £7.1 million project is funded by the UK Prevention Research Partnership. Over the five-year project, the interdisciplinary team will develop innovative approaches to work with communities where there are high levels of health inequalities.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with dementia and their carers: key findings
The Living Well with Dementia Team at NIHR ARC Kent, Surrey and Sussex are pleased to share key findings and messages for two studies that explored the impact of COVID-19 on the quality of life of people with dementia and their carers during 2020.
New method to help GPs manage patients with multiple health conditions
A team of NIHR ARC South West Peninsula health scientists has developed the SHERPA model, a three-step method for evidence-informed and interpretative decision making. While people are living longer, many develop multimorbidities – that is, multiple health conditions that no single set of guidelines will cover. It’s a challenge for the patients themselves, and the GPs trying to support them in living healthy lives. Now a team of health scientists led by Senior Research Fellow Dr Dawn Swancutt, from NIHR ARC South West Peninsula, has developed the SHERPA model for GPs – a new three-step method for evidence-informed and interpretative decision making.
Exploring trends in recording anxiety symptoms in UK primary care
The way GPs record anxiety in patient records could be leading to a reduction in formal anxiety diagnoses, new research from the University of Bristol and NIHR ARC West has found. Anxiety disorders are common in the UK, with the level of anxiety symptoms being recorded by GPs increasing between 1998 and 2008. However, studies have shown that the recording of anxiety disorders decreased in the same period.
ARC EoE food research features in BBC TV report
NIHR ARC East of England study with the University of Hertfordshire has revealed that many families with school-aged children reported difficulties in accessing food during the pandemic. The researchers found more support is needed to help families who are eligible for free school meals to navigate the benefits system and that the number of children eligible for free school meals has grown significantly over the past 12 months, from 1.44 million children in January 2020 to 1.74 million in January 2021.
Download hypo education booklet to drive down 999 calls
Ambulance services can now download a booklet designed to reduce diabetes-related emergency call outs thanks to an NIHR ARC East Midlands study. The ‘Hypos Can Strike Twice’ booklet, which evidence shows can lead to significant reduction in repeat ambulance attendance for hypoglycaemia. The resource has also been shown to provide a significant improvement in the information, advice and treatment given for hypoglycaemia delivered by ambulance staff.
Hosting a UK Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) Research conference during a pandemic – could it be done?
The 2021 PROMs Conference was held earlier this year, after being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. NIHR ARC Yorkshire and Humber’s Health Economics, Evaluation and Equality theme have shared thoughts and reflections from running this conference virtually.
The evaluation of the peer challenge programme for adult social care in the West Midlands
NIHR ARC West Midlands researchers at the University of Birmingham were commissioned by the West Midlands Association of Directors of Adult Social Services to undertake a mixed methods independent evaluation of the peer challenge process for adult social care.
Survival for babies born with a birth defect – a “post-code lottery”
Survival for a baby born with a birth defect – otherwise known as a congenital anomaly – is a “post-code lottery”, according to scientists from 74 countries including implementation scientists from NIHR ARC South London.
The Greater Manchester Care Record: Using de-identified patient information to support research into COVID-19
NIHR ARC Greater Manchester lead for Digital Health Prof. Niels Peek, describes the importance of using deidentified patient information from the GM Care Record for research and how this is helping to understand how the pandemic has affected communities across Greater Manchester. There are already a number of research studies using data from the GM Care Record to help inform the response to the pandemic.
A community-led programme to improve infant nutrition in London’s South Asian communities nominated for prestigious award
The NIHR ARC North Thames and University College London (UCL)
Nurture Early for Optimal Nutrition (NEON) programme has been nominated for a prestigious Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) Health and Wellbeing Award 2021. The NEON programme, led by Prof Monica Lakhanpaul and Dr Logan Manikam from UCL, aims to improve feeding, care and dental hygiene practices for infants under 2 years old, shifting the power to these communities to better support mothers and carers.
In at the deep end – delivering primary care in deprived communities during a pandemic
A new paper by researchers from NIHR ARC North East and North Cumbria explores the challenges faced by community GP practices serving some of the most deprived areas in England during lockdown.
Blogs and opinion

Food for thought: Active involvement in research
In the latest NIHR ARC East of England blog post, Amander Wellings shares insights into her service-user involvement in the
COVID-19 food study with University of Hertfordshire researchers. Amanda helped with the dissemination of the research findings and her ideas and feedback developed the set of policy briefings and this animation film.

Read more
PPIE during a pandemic – more than just ‘going virtual’
This NIHR ARC Yorkshire and Humber blog reflects on strengths and weaknesses in attempts to involve and engage communities in research during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lessons this has taught them about inclusivity and relationships.
Read more
Health financing in Sub-Saharan Africa: the story of a bandwagon
Richard Lilford, Director of NIHR ARC West Midlands, discusses the 1987 Bamako Initiative (aimed to implement strategies designed to increase the availability of essential drugs and other healthcare services) and the state of health financing in sub-Saharan Africa.
Read more
Linking datasets without personal information to improve healthcare services
To understand how best to provide healthcare for patients, we often bring together information from multiple datasets, as a patient’s information is typically stored in different places. However, this raises privacy concerns around the accessing and sharing of personal information. NIHR ARC North Thames researcher Helen Blake is exploring how we can link up different datasets without needing personal information, illustrated using bowel cancer patient records.
Read more
The importance of listening and changing
National Data Guardian, Dr Nicola Byrne, talks about the importance of listening well, prompted by a citizens' jury deliberation in which members of the public explored data sharing during the pandemic.
Read more
Events and opportunities
Population Evidence and Data Science Seminar

Tuesday 14 September, 12.30 - 1.30pm

Location: Online
Dr. Louise Lafortune will present this session on using data to improve health, and how to engage the public. She will share the findings from a project which the University of Cambridge ran in partnership with five Healthwatch organisations across the East of England. Through a series of conversations with the public, they explored what people think about bringing different types of heath data together to inform health and care services, public health and research.
Better commissioning for palliative care during and after COVID-19

Monday 20 September, 2 - 3:30pm

Location: Online
COVID-19 has affected health care systems globally with implications for policy, funding and care delivery. In this policy event, leading researchers and national policymakers will discuss how we can promote better commissioning for palliative and end of life care during and following the pandemic.
Seldom Heard Forum

Monday 20 September, 1 – 3pm
Location: Online
Join NIHR ARC North West Coast for their third virtual Seldom Heard Forum. The forum aims to create an environment where ideas and views that reflect issues and needs experienced by seldom heard groups can be exchanged. The forum discussion will focus on seldom heard Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.
Health Service Modelling Associates (HSMA) 3: Final Presentation Event

Wednesday 29 September, 09:30am – 12noon

Location: Online
Join the NIHR ARC South West Peninsula team as our current cohort of HSMAs present their work at our virtual event. The HSMA course supports health, care and policing staff to use Operational Research and data science techniques within service development and decision making. At this event the latest cohort will share their work.

The event will be of interest to anyone who would like to hear more about how the HSMA programme has led to real change for health, social care and policing organisations, and how modelling, simulation, and data science are helping to transform analytics in these sectors.
Managing Multimorbidity Webinar

Tuesday 5 October, 1 - 4pm

Location: Online
As the national lead for multimorbidity, NIHR ARC for East Midlands is staging a virtual Managing Multimorbidity webinar featuring a keynote presentation by Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health and Social Care. The meeting will be chaired by Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Director for NIHR ARC East Midlands and National NIHR ARC Lead for the Managing Multimorbidity Theme. There will also be contributions from across the NIHR ARC network.
Stroke Research Hatch Lab Event

Tuesday 12 October, 10am – 3pm

Location: Online
The Hatch Lab will provide Early Career Researchers or those interested in Stroke research from any background the opportunity to come together, network, share existing research and discuss new research ideas to benefit local people.
Greater Manchester PCIE Forum Festival Week

Monday 18 October - Thursday 21 October

Location: Online

Connecting Communities: Valuing our Differences and Learning Together. A virtual 4 day festival of learning, connection and inclusion. Join NIHR ARC Greater Manchester for a week of activities to showcase and celebrate the way in which the communities of Greater Manchester have come together in an inclusive way during the pandemic. Learn more about how different communities have been working together and the impact this has on maximising diversity and inclusion in public involvement and engagement activities.

New NIHR ARC Wessex research projects (Part 2)

Monday 18 October, 12.30 – 1.30pm

Location: Online
Learn about:
  • PARTNERS Project. Development and implementation of a digital tool for multisectoral support and management of long term conditions (Professor Mari Carmen Portillo)
  • Wessex DIET. Determining the Impact of food insEcurity in young families and Testing interventions (Dr Dianna Smith & Dr Nisreen Alwan)
  • Non-digital support for maintaining physical activity in people with long-term (Moth 5) – within Maintenance Of physical acTivity beHaviour (MOTH) programme (Professor Maria Stokes and Dr Paul Clarkson)
  • My Medical Record Neuro. Identifying strategies to support widespread uptake, use and usefulness of digital care in long-term conditions (Professor Chris Kipps)
Economic evaluation online introductory course

1 November - 10 December

Location: Online
The NIHR ARC North Thames Academy are offering a new online course, providing a unique opportunity to develop economic evaluation skills with leading trainers, irrespective of previous experience. This fully flexible course is intended as an introduction for frontline health and care staff who need to undertake their own economic evaluation of a local intervention or service.
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