New initiative to highlight impact of University research on the NHS
(9 March 2005)
A major new initiative to bring greater focus and attention to the quality and importance of world-class research in health and medicine at Durham University is being launched this week (Friday 11th March) with the announcement of a Health Strategy Board.
The new Health Strategy Board for education and research will bring together the leading academics and research groups in a unique collaboration with the top practitioners and decision makers in the NHS as well as key players from regional bodies, local government and national research bodies.
The Health Strategy Board’s overall aim is to make a real difference to the health and well-being of people living in the North East of England by demonstrating an active and meaningful engagement with the NHS through the work of the University’s research groups.
It will seek to make a significant contribution to the quality of life and effectiveness of health care by co-ordinating teaching, research and links with the NHS and partners by promoting a new understanding of the real value and impact of collaborative working.
The new initiative, which is regarded as on the most significant developments for many years in the field of medicine and health, is being launched at a major regional event at the University of Durham’s Queen’s Campus in Stockton, on FRIDAY 11th March.
A specially invited audience of the leaders of health care provision, medical and clinical research, hospitals, NHS Healthcare Trusts, national and regional representatives of Government Departments, research organisations funding bodies, other universities, local and regional partnerships, will hear presentations highlighting the excellence of research work at Durham University and its impact on the NHS.
Significantly, the launch of the Health Strategy Board will take place at the University’s Wolfson Research Institute, which since its foundation in Stockton in 2001 has become established as a world-class centre working to tackle many of the region’s health problems.
Its leading edge work also contributes to improved health and health care practices and seeks to make an overall difference to development and regeneration in the region.
There will be a keynote address by Sir Derek Wanless, special advisor to the Government on health service resourcing and public health issues. Sir Derek has had a major influence on Government policies on the funding of the NHS.
He said : “I warmly welcome the setting up of the Health Strategy Board. Its aims and its promotion of collaborative working fit exactly with the recommendations I made in my two reports to Government. I expect it to make a big impact nationally on policy formation as well as locally in improving people’s lives.”
The scope and impact of the work of the University’s health and medical research will be presented under four main themes : clinical and health services, life science, medical humanities and public policy, health and wellbeing. Each presentation will be lead by a senior academic representing the various research centres and outlining the scope and impact of their work.
Professor Pali Hungin, Dean of Medicine and Head of the School for Health at Durham University, will look at inequalities in access delivery. He will be stressing the importance of undergraduate medicine as a catalyst for innovation, partnership working with regional universities and the need for an active and meaningful engagement with the NHS. He will look at the University’s groundbreaking work on the management of heart failure, diabetes and world-leading research on gastrointestinal problems.
Professor Chris Hutchison, of the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, will look at the challenges in an ageing community and the partnership working with other Departments and local NHS trusts in areas of neuroscience including the study of visual problems in stroke patients and the effects of various aged–related diseases. His presentation will also include work on the effectiveness of drug treatments and collaborative work with local hospitals on Parkinson’s Disease, epilepsy, stroke and the stem cell research.
Professor Martyn Evans, Professor of Humanities in Medicine and Principal of John Snow College, will cover the work of the Medical Humanities Group which includes the Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease and the Centre for Arts and Humanities in Health and Medicine. Comparisons between medical confidentiality in England and Germany, differences in sex education in the two countries, the development of the drug receptor concept, and the importance of art in health care environments are among the areas to be examined by Professor Evans.
Professor David Hunter of the Centre for Public Policy and Health will take a critical look at the effectiveness of the policies and incentives within the NHS and how they contribute or otherwise to health improvement and health inequalities. He will also detail work of the Queen’s Campus based Public Health Observatory in monitoring health and disease trends and looking ahead to ways of giving early warning of public health problems. He will also highlight the strong links between academic research, development and practice in relation to the NHS.
The launch event will be opened by Sir Kenneth Calman, Vice Chancellor of the University of Durham and Professor Ray Hudson, Director of the Wolfson Research Institute. After the presentations and keynote speech there will be an open forum chaired by the Vice Chancellor.
The Vice Chancellor said : “There is a planned and coherent link between research work at Durham University and the work of the NHS in hospitals and doctors’ surgeries. The work of our various research groups shows how this has a direct bearing on the day-to-day work of tackling health problems which affect the wellbeing and quality of life for people in the North East.” “By working in close collaboration with our colleagues in the NHS we can help to bring about real and effective changes in the way primary health care services are organised and delivered. A great deal of exciting world-class research is happening at Durham and we have some really excellent people working on a significant range of research in areas of health and medicine which do make a real difference.”
For further information contact : Professor Ray Hudson, Director, Wolfson Research Institute. Tel 0191 334 0070 e-mail; email@example.com
Media enquiries to : Tom Fennelly, Public Relations, University of Durham, Tel 0191 334 6078 e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org Notes to editors
- The Wolfson Research Institute is based in a purpose-built building on the University’s Queen’s Campus, at Stockton-on–Tees and began operation in November 2001. The building is home to around 90 staff and 20 research students, with around 30 staff in other parts of the University involved in the work of the Institute. The work of the Institute focuses on research on health, medicine and the environment, and the links between them, and upon regional and urban regeneration. As well as helping meet the University’s strategic goal of producing top quality cutting edge research, the Wolfson Research Institute strengthens links with the surrounding region and has a key role in meeting its strategic goal of enhanced regional engagement, via contributing to policy formation and implementation. The £10 million Wolfson Research Institute provides first-class research facilities bringing substantial benefits both to the university and the region. Each of the units and centres has a nationally or internationally recognised leader and several research groups have undergone rapid expansion and new research tools and techniques have been introduced.
- Sir Derek Wanless, Former Group Chief Executive of the National Westminster Bank, is now a Director of Northern Rock plc and Northumbrian Water plc. He is also Vice Chairman of the Statistics Commission and a Trustee of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. He has recently been an influential advisor to the Government on health service resourcing and public health issues. His influence is expected to shape Government policy for many years to come, particularly about the impact of “good health equals good economics” and the shift towards the promotion of good health for the whole population to create a true health service rather than a sickness service. He was knighted for his public service in the 2005 New Years Honours. In summer 2005 he is to receive an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Civil Law) from Durham University.
- Sir Kenneth Calman has been Vice-Chancellor and Warden since October 1998. He represents Universities UK on the Education Committee for the General Medical Council. As Vice-Chancellor he is a member of the board of the North East Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Statistics Commission and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. With the support of the Nuffield Trust he has been a principal mover in setting up a national network to study the closer involvement of the arts and humanities with health and medicine. Sir Kenneth was Chief Medical Officer at the Scottish Office Home and Health Department from 1989 and then as Chief Medical Officer in London (1991-98). For many years he was a prominent clinical professor and he is an author on the treatment and care of cancer patients, and other health issues training. Sir Kenneth has served as Chairman of the Executive Board of the World Health Organisation and the European Environment and Health Committee.
- Professor Ray Hudson joined Durham University in 1972 as a lecturer in geography. In 1990 he was promoted through to Professor in Geography and became \Director of the Wolfson Research Institute in 2002. He is also a current member of the ESRC Training Board, a member of the Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences and is a vice-president of the Royal Geographical Society.
- Professor Pali Hungin OBE is Fellow of Royal Society of Arts and Chair of the NHS R&D Forum, England, and a Royal College of General Practitioners representative on the National Institute of Clinical Excellence Primary Care Coordination Group.
- Professor Chris Hutchison’s research focuses on the structure, function and biosynthesis of the nuclear envelope, and the discovery that a number of genetic diseases, including muscular dystrophy, cardiomyopathy and cancer are promoted through mutation or changes in of nuclear envelope proteins.
- Professor Martyn Evans is joint editor of the Medical Humanities editions of the Journal of Medical Ethics. He has published variously on the aesthetics of music, ethics and philosophy of medicine, and the role of humanities in medical education.. When not being a philosopher he is a musician – conducting the Queen’s Campus Endeavour Orchestra.
- Professor David Hunter is a member of the Evidence in Practice Steering Group of the Health Development Agency, of the National Heart Forum and of the Steering Group for the King's Fund initiative "Putting Health First".
SOME EXEMPLARY RESEARCH PROJECTS AT DURHAM UNIVERSITY
The organisation of care for patients with a fractured neck of femur :
The Centre for Clinical Management Development has being looking at ways to enable better organisation of care for patients commonly considered as “bed blockers” within hospitals. The CCMD project looked at patients with a fractured neck or femur by studying how clinical and care work was organised with a view to providing better co-ordinated care for patients suffering from a hip fracture. The research findings showed that there was extremely poor organisation and completion of medical records. Practices and procedures varied greatly. There was often lack of cohesion and differences in working between primary care trusts and social services departments. With care dispersed among a large number or providers in general practices, hospitals, private nursing homes, community nursing and voluntary care, there is fragmentation of care which impedes co-ordinated treatment and care. The research project highlighted the need for improved communications between care providers with the better use of information technology. It called for better clinical management structures which cut across organisational boundaries to provide an integrated pathway of care.
Early cancer detection :
The Centre for Integrated Health Care Research has been looking at identifying barriers to the early diagnosis of upper gastrointestinal cancer to enable earlier and more accurate diagnosis. One of the concerns is that the advent of powerful acid suppression drugs (which now comprise the largest sector of NHS prescribing at £300 million per year) used to treat dyspepsia might mask the presence of cancer. The research focussed on the potential effect of acid suppression treatment on the diagnosis of cancer. Results confirmed that prior acid suppression therapy was associated with delayed diagnosis and researchers concluded that current NHS referral guidelines would not identify one in seven patients with upper gastrointestinal cancer at their initial visit to the GP. Researchers have confirmed the association between delayed diagnosis of upper gastrointestinal cancer and prior use of acid suppression although they have been unable to demonstrate differences in tumour staging or patient outcomes. As a result of the research project work is continuing on the development of a strategy for tighter selection of patients with possible cancer. The project embraces the same overall theme of identifying barriers to effective care and evaluating strategies for clinical effectiveness, not only in gastroenterology but also in diabetes and heart failure.
Managing for Health : Incentives and Regulatory Mechanisms within the NHS :
Research by the Centre for Public Policy and Health is being funded by the King’s Fund as part of its Putting Health First Initiative aimed at redesigning the NHS to ensure that it focuses on health rather than ill-health. Given the importance of public health on the political agenda, the research is very timely and of considerable relevance. The research looks at barriers and impediments to health improvement and tackling health inequalities and seeks to identify incentives to achieve progress. Detailed field work has been carried out with strategic health authorities, primary care trusts and national bodies including the Health Development Agency, National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the Healthcare Commission. Among the emerging key findings are that public health is being accorded symbolic importance in performance management; the focus is now firmly on the ‘must do’s’ of the NHS modernisation agenda, such as meeting waiting list and access targets and balancing the books. It has also emerged that the evidence base in public health is weak or non-existent especially when examining what works or what is effective. The research clearly shows that rebalancing the NHS from a sickness to a health service will only happen if there is a committed leadership from the top and the performance management system is seen to matter.
Tees Valley Baby Study :
Little is known about the underlying factors that account for the link between social and economic adversity and the relation between poverty and delays in the development of children’s language and play skills. The Tees Valley Baby Study by the Child Development Research Unit seeks to increase understanding of this relationship by in-depth studies of the potential antecedents of language and play skills in children from differing socio-economic backgrounds. The study involves more than 200 mothers and infants from a cross-section of communities. The children are examined at 8 months, 14 months and 24 months for their social interaction with their mothers and other adults. Firstly, aspects of early social interaction were assessed followed by direct observations and measurement of infants’ language and play abilities. As expected it was found the children from lower socio-economic communities predicted lower language and play skills by the age of 24 months. Mothers in this group were also more likely to be mildly depressed, had less social support from family and friends and their children had more problem behaviours. Results also suggested that a child’s cognitive and language skills may be influenced by positive interact ional qualities of the child-parent relationships that go beyond the detrimental effects of low socio-economic status.
University of Durham
Health Strategy Board Launch
Wolfson Research Institute, Queen’s Campus, Stockton
FRIDAY 11TH MARCH 2005
13:00 - 13.45: Registration and Lunch
14:00 - 14.30: The Health Strategy Board : Aims and Purpose : Professor Sir Kenneth Calman, Vice Chancellor
Professor Ray Hudson, Director, Wolfson Research Institute
14:30 - 15:30:The Four Research Themes Clinical and Health Services Research :Professor Pali Hungin
Life Sciences: Professor Chris Hutchison
Medical Humanities : Professor Martyn Evans
Public Policy, Health and Wellbeing:Professor David Hunter
15:30 – 16:00:Afternoon Tea
16:00 – 16:45:Keynote address: Sir Derek Wanless
16:45 – 17:15:Open Forum : Chaired by Professor Sir Kenneth Calman
17:15 – 18:30:Drinks