Health research across Hampshire, Dorset, Isle of Wight and South Wiltshire awarded £9 million

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The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has awarded £9 million to create a new organisation called ARC Wessex.

Solving big health issues

Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) are teams of researchers working together to solve some of the big health issues in their communities. There are 15 in England and ARC Wessex will cover Dorset, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and South Wiltshire.

Spread across four universities, NHS Trusts and local authorities, ARC Wessex will bring together doctors, nurses, other health professionals, care staff and academics to find practical solutions for patients and health and care systems.

“We are enormously pleased to have been awarded this funding from the National Institute for Health Research. Our collaboration is focussed on some of the biggest health challenges facing communities across Wessex,” said Professor Alison Richardson, director of ARC Wessex and a specialist in cancer and end of life care at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and University of Southampton.

“Our research will bring together patients and the public, local health and care providers and universities to work together to produce and implement research to enable prevention of ill health, more effective treatment and care and better outcomes. It’s a very exciting time and we look forward to starting our programme of work in earnest in the autumn.”

Prioritising health research

The ARC Wessex team will be working across four research areas: ageing and dementia; long term conditions; healthy communities; and health systems and workforce. All of these address some of the major health challenges facing our local population of almost three million people.

The research has been designed alongside the priorities for the NHS in the Wessex region. We know that our ageing population faces a number of health issues from frailty to neurodegenerative conditions like dementia. Wessex has a higher than average number of people over 65 (23% Wessex, England 17%), with the Isle of Wight (30%) and Dorset (28%) having the highest numbers. In addition, there are many people living longer with conditions such as arthritis, lung disease and type 2 diabetes.

Our NHS and social care systems are under pressure and helping people to avoid disease and to stay healthy is another priority. That is why we are looking at how to build healthy communities, prevent illness and help social care and health systems to design health and social care support now and into the future.

In addition to putting health research to a practical use in our communities, the funding will also support a number of NHS, social care staff and academics to conduct research, finding solutions to the health problems we face now and in the future.

Taking part

The public will play an important part in the research carried out by ARC Wessex. Central to each research team will be two lead public/patient members who will help develop research projects and advise on how to explain the work without using jargon. These eight public/patient team members will also join a host of supporters and advisors who will review and scrutinise the development and progress of health research projects.


ARC Wessex has been awarded funding for five years with work starting 1 October 2019. The NIHR is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research.

The NIHR is the research arm of the NHS. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research.

The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems.

Posted on Monday 15 July 2019