Patient having blood pressure tested

Manchester team secure funding for new research collaboration to address patient safety challenges

A team led by researchers at The University of Manchester and hosted by Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust is one of just six across England to be awarded a share of £25 million in funding by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) to run a Patient Safety Research Collaboration (PSRC) from 2023-2028.

The Greater Manchester Patient Safety Research collaboration (GM PSRC) will address strategic patient safety challenges within the health and care system, focusing on seven strategic areas set out by NHS England. These areas cover issues such as clinical risk scores, which enable professionals to identify people who may benefit from preventative interventions and improving the culture and practice in organisations to promote patient safety. Researchers from the University of Nottingham and the University of Leicester will work with the Manchester team.

Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR, said: “Patient safety is about maximising the things that go right and minimising the things that go wrong for people receiving healthcare. We are aligning our funding with the strategic priorities from NHS England and ensuring that we are addressing the issues that really matter to patients.

“This new round of funding gives the best researchers the opportunity to assess innovations and approaches that could shift this balance for the better.”

The PSRCs will help researchers to develop and test innovations, approaches and interventions that could improve patient safety and the safety of health and care services. The funding will also enable partnerships to be built between health and care organisations, universities, local authorities, and patients and the public.

The collaborations are an evolution of the Patient Safety Translational Research Centres (PSTRCs), which were first funded by the NIHR a decade ago. The Greater Manchester PSTRC was one of the original centres to receive funding from the NIHR as part of the scheme.

Darren Ashcroft

Professor Darren Ashcroft

Professor Darren Ashcroft, Director of the Greater Manchester Patient Safety Research Collaboration, said: “We are delighted to have secured funding to continue patient safety research as one of the new Patient Safety Research Collaborations. The work we’ve delivered over the last 10 years at the Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre has impacted the safety of care delivered by the NHS, as our innovations have been adopted by health and social care and rolled out first regionally, then nationally. The new collaboration will allow our researchers to build on this success across four key themes of patient safety, and we’re excited to get this work underway.”

The Greater Manchester PSRC will focus on the following themes:

  1. Improving Medication Safety
  2. Enhancing Cultures of Safety
  3. Developing Safer Health and Care Systems
  4. Preventing Suicide and Self-harm

An example of the impact of the GM PSTRC’s work on NHS frontline services is the set of safety indicators developed to identify patients at risk of harm from prescribing errors. In addition, researchers helped to test and implement a pharmacist-led IT-based intervention based on these indicators that could reduce prescribing errors. This intervention has now been rolled out nationally.

Researchers at the Greater Manchester PSTRC also responded quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic, adapting existing studies and designing new ones. One study highlighted that fewer people asked their GP or hospital for mental health support during a lockdown. Another study that looked at the diagnosis and management of type 2 diabetes during the pandemic contributed to additional funding being made available to the NHS to support national COVID recovery through the creation of a ‘Diabetes Treatment and Care Recovery Innovation Fund’.

The Greater Manchester PSRC will be hosted by Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust. Professor Phil Kalra, Director of Research & Innovation, said: “Research that focuses on patient safety across health and social care is vital. We have been impressed with the achievements of the Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre and are pleased to be hosting the new Patient Safety Research Collaboration from 2023. All four of the collaboration’s new themes are relevant to the NCA and we are looking forward to working together to improve patient safety.”

In addition to funding six PSRCs, the NIHR is also providing new, additional funding to establish a network between these collaborations. The network will provide a platform for strategic coordination and a focal point for collaboration between the PSRCs.

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