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Goodbye PenCLAHRC, Hello PenARC: The next episode of health research in the South West

Posted on October 1st 2019

Today marks the start of a new era of health research in the South West as PenCLAHRC relaunches as a NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC). But what exactly is an ARC?

The ARC programme is a NIHR-funded network of research collaborations across England established in order to support applied health and care research, and to respond to and meet the needs of local populations and health care providers. The funding is part of a £135 million investment in health research aimed at tackling the biggest challenges the health and care system faces over the next five years.

The successor to the CLAHRC programme, ARCs are made up of local providers of NHS and care services, NHS commissioners, local authorities, universities and charities and support applied health and care research for local populations while also addressing national research priorities.

PenCLAHRC has now become the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration South West Peninsula (also known as PenARC) and is a collaboration between the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter, 25 NHS and local authority organisations across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, local charity organisations and the South West AHSN.

PenARC will see the continuation of many of the projects initiated in PenCLAHRC but will also see the development of our research portfolio around the themes of complex care, dementia, mental health and public health to enable us to continue addressing local health and care needs. ARCs will also be responding to national priorities and working collaboratively across the network on these areas of research strength.

Professor Stuart Logan remains as Director of PenARC, with Professor Richard Byng and Professor Ken Stein as Deputy Directors. They form part of PenARC’s broad range of operational and research staff with expertise in topics such as frailty and ageing, child mental health, dementia, complex interventions and service improvement. We also provide a range of training opportunities to health and social care professionals, including our Making Sense of Evidence workshops, which provide training in how to access and use research evidence to make effective health and social care decisions.

Our team of researchers work together with our specialist researchers who provide methodological expertise in a number of areas, including:

PenCHORD (the Peninsula Collaboration for Health Operational Research and Development): specialists in helping healthcare professionals, commissioners and patients make informed decisions about change in the NHS using Operational Research (OR).

Evidence Synthesis Team: health service researchers with expertise in evidence synthesis methods who produce systematic reviews and informational specialist support to inform locally relevant evidence-based practice and develop capacity across the region.

Patient & Public Involvement in Research; supporting PenARC researchers and students to involve the public in their research projects, conducting and publishing research on how best to involve members of the public in health policy, research and practice and helping members of the public to develop research questions. They also work with Patient and Public Involvement Group (PenPIG) to maximise the benefits of health research.

Implementation Science Group: implementation scientists working across all of our research themes to put effective health care into practice; a crucial link in the chain to improve the population’s health.

We are looking forward to another five years of fantastic research, capacity building and involvement and helping to shape better outcomes for patients and support effective health and social care, both locally and nationally.

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