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Thursday 16 November 2023

Southampton to host new network for health and care research across region

University Hospital Southampton (UHS) will host a new, regional network to drive the best patient care through research.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced an NIHR Research Delivery Network (RDN) for England that will start in 2024.

As part of this, 12 new Regional Research Delivery Networks (RRDNs) will cover all English regions.

The south-central network will be hosted by UHS. It will serve over four million people.

The RRDNs are being launched on 1 October 2024.

Research with impact

The new NIHR RDN will support the country’s world-class research system to deliver high quality research that enables the best care for patients and the public.

It will work across the health and care system, with staff in all health and care settings, to support the effective and efficient initiation and delivery of research. It will support the NHS and care services and generate benefits for the economy of the UK.

Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR said:

“I’d like to congratulate University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and all the successful hosts for the future NIHR RDN. I am looking forward to working with UHS and all the organisations across the new RDN to support the delivery of the best health and care research for the public.

“The opportunity to be part of research is crucial for all communities, particularly those with major health and care needs. The new NIHR RDN will build capacity to extend research delivery in primary, community and social care settings to make it easier for patients to get access to cutting-edge treatments and new models of care, through research.

South central delivery

UHS is one of the largest and most prolific teaching hospitals for research in the NHS. It is at the centre of regional efforts to combine research strengths to meet real need.

The Trust works in close partnership with the University of Southampton to deliver key research infrastructure for the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

This includes an NIHR Clinical Research Facility, Biomedical Research Centre, Applied Research Collaboration, Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre and Wessex Clinical Research Network.

Paul Grundy, Chief Medical Officer at UHS, said: “I am delighted that UHS has been selected for this new phase for research delivery in our region. Health and care research is essential to driving a better future for our patients, staff and communities region wide.

“Our Trust has hosted NIHR research infrastructure for over 20 years and works closely with partners across the south to deliver research with impact. Together, we will advance high quality research that will benefit generations of people receiving our care.”

The south-central RRDN will serve Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire West, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Improving patient care

The new RDN will enhance equality of opportunity for people to get involved in research, no matter who they are or where they live.

It will enable research activity to follow patient and service user need. This will ensure research takes place in communities living with the greatest disease burden. It will be in collaboration with patients, carers and the public, investigators and study sites.

Professor Chappell added: “The plans and ambitions we have for the NIHR RDN have evolved from the excellent work of the Clinical Research Network over the last nine years. Its many dedicated staff have worked incredibly hard to support researchers and sponsors in England to deliver some of the best health and care research during this time.

“Without their passion and determination, so much of the world-leading research produced in this country during the COVID-19 pandemic would not have been possible.”