University receives significant share of £100 million NIHR Policy Research Units funding

The University of Manchester is to receive a significant share of an NIHR award of over £100 million for 20 new Policy Research Units (PRUs) across England, to tackle important long-standing and emerging health and social care issues.

The three units which involve the University of Manchester and funded to the tune of around £5 million each, will tackle Health and Care Systems and Commissioning, Healthy Ageing and Child and Families.

One of them led by The University Manchester, the University of Kent and The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, will allow researchers to continue their research exploring the impact of national policy on the health and care system in England.

The Policy Research Unit in Health and Care Systems and Commissioning (known as PRUComm) was first established in 2010, and has pioneered research exploring every important policy initiative affecting the health and care system, from the impact of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to the progress being made by new Integrated Care Systems on tackling Health Inequalities.

Led by the University of Manchester’s Professor Kath Checkland and Professor Matt Sutton, the Unit will work closely with policy makers to identify the most pressing policy questions facing the NHS and design research projects and programmes to inform ongoing policy.

Professor Checkland said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to continue our world-leading programme of research. The new Unit will build upon and develop the work done by PRUComm since 2010, and we will continue to work closely with policy makers to understand the issues they face.

“The new award provides us with the opportunity to bring in new collaborators and further develop our capacity to respond quickly to important policy questions, and we look forward to working closely with colleagues in other Policy Research Units to ensure that the Department of Health and Social Care and their Arm’s Length Bodies have the best available evidence to support their work.”

The Older People and Frailty Policy Research Unit has successfully been re-awarded funding from NIHR for a further five years. Renamed as the Healthy Ageing Policy Research Unit, but continuing its collaborative partnership that includes The University of Manchester, Newcastle University and the London School of Economics, the unit will work to answer questions for policy makers to inform evidence based policy making. The funding will ensure the unit is able to deliver sustained and long-term benefits to the health and wellbeing of people across throughout mid to later life.

Professor Chris Todd said “We are delighted to have been funded again to continue our collaboration with colleagues at Newcastle and LSE, I look forward to working in partnership with policy teams to ensure together we improve the lives of those living in our communities.”

The Children and Families Policy Research Unit (CPRU) was awarded funding to continue its operations for the next 5 years, starting from January 2024. The announcement builds on the work done by CPRU over a decade, and further strengthens its commitment to support evidence based policy-making at a local and national level.

CPRU is a collaboration between UCL and the universities of Bristol, Oxford, Manchester, Newcastle, Kings College London, Bradford Institute for Health Research, Anna Freud Centre, and Institute of Fiscal Studies. The aim of the CPRU is to conduct high-quality research which enables policymakers and practitioners to make informed decisions which affect the nation’s health and wellbeing.

The PRU system has been running successfully since the 1970s, offering DHSC direct access to top academics in various fields. The units have been instrumental in shaping a range of policies.

Over the past 5 years, the 15 current PRUs have provided evidence for a variety of different policy priority areas. They have provided both a long-term resource for policy research and a rapid response service to provide evidence for emerging policy needs.

Professor Lucy Chappell Chief Scientific Advisor, DHSC Chief Executive of NIHR said “In the NIHR, we have a range of ways to make sure that health and care research benefits patients and the public. The NIHR’s new Policy Research Units are designed to provide strong evaluation of policy. This helps government and related organisations to be able to act on the latest evidence when making decisions about health and social care that could impact us all.

“We are funding Policy Research Units across a range of key areas of policy ranging from cancer screening to social care. Several new topics will expand the ability of the units to help address the major healthcare challenges that we are facing, including improving reproductive health, tackling addiction as well as dementia and neurodegeneration.”

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