Health researchers in south London have been given £18 million to help tackle some of the area’s most pressing health problems.

The Department of Health has awarded £9 million to fund the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) South London. The CLAHRC will also receive £9 million of matched funding from the local partners taking the total to £18 million over five years.

The collaboration pools the clinical and research expertise of both the NHS and universities in south London as it brings together King’s Health Partners (a partnership between King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts), with St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and St George’s, University of London - as joint leaders of the CLAHRC.

The money will help make sure that patients benefit from innovative new treatments and techniques that could revolutionise future health care. Researchers will work together to investigate new methods to prevent and treat chronic diseases such as stroke, and tackle public health issues including reducing alcohol-related harm. In south London up to 30 per cent of acute medical admissions and 50 per cent of mental health admissions are alcohol related.

Funding will also establish education programmes, and a new Centre for Implementation Science will be set up as a central resource to support research and test innovations in these nine areas: alcohol; diabetes; infection; palliative and end of life care; psychosis; public health; stroke; women’s health; and patient and public involvement.

The organisations involved in the CLAHRC already have a track record of using new research to fundamentally change policy, influencing clinical practice and training. As the following examples show.

  • To help local patients control their type 1 diabetes, King’s College London and King’s College Hospital together run an educational programme, ‘Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating’ (DAFNE). The five day course teaches patients to match their insulin dose to their food intake and equips patients with the skills they need so that they can effectively manage their diabetes.
  • To help local patients control their type 1 diabetes, King’s College London and King’s College Hospital together run an educational programme, ‘Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating’ (DAFNE). The five day course teaches patients to match their insulin dose to their food intake and equips patients with the skills they need so that they can effectively manage their diabetes.
  • Research from King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ has: identified the acute and long term impact of stroke in Europe and inner city south London; highlighted inequalities in health and healthcare delivery; and developed cost effective complex interventions to address these impacts.
  • Research at St George’s into hospital acquired infections has led to improved protocols for C. difficile testing, leading to changes in NHS policy and clinical practice across England.

Professor Graham Thornicroft, Director of the NIHR CLAHRC South London and Professor of Community Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London said: “I am delighted that we can announce the success of our bid for south London. The key role of the CLAHRC is to provide support, through proper research, for implementation of new ideas and innovations in the NHS. The nine focus areas have been chosen to target the health needs of people in south London and we hope to see real results.

“We are working in partnership with our local Academic Health Sciences Network (AHSN) in south London - with its membership across different sectors, its involvement is crucial in helping to deliver and spread innovation and good practice, directly informed by the research findings of the CLAHRC.”

Lord Howe, Health Minister said: “This is great news for patients – this funding could potentially help the development of ground breaking treatments which could revolutionise care. With a growing elderly population, the need for innovative and effective solutions has never been more important.

“We want the UK to lead the world in terms of health research and this announcement underlines that commitment.

“It is vital that we invest in health research, not only to create the opportunities for health research to grow - but also to help our economy thrive so we can compete in the global race.” 

Researchers from right across the country were invited to bid for £124 million funding, which has been provided by the Department of Health, to address long term conditions and public health challenges. A total of 13 CLAHRCs has been announced.