The Director of ARC East of England Peter Jones provides a new year's statement, summarising the achievements of 2021 and what the coming year might hold.
As we move into a new calendar year the ARC also approaches its halfway point - amazing to think the collaboration will have existed for 30 months by Easter. If the past year is a guide, 2022 should be eventful and important as we work to improve health and care in the region.
"If the past year is a guide, 2022 should be eventful and important as we work to improve health and care in the region"
There have been many research highlights, some Covid-related, others being the culmination of work that began before the pandemic; these have and will be reported elsewhere.
Increased alignment with other NIHR infrastructure in the region, such as the Clinical Research Network - Eastern, the Research Design Service East of England and the Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre mean we can put forward a more joined-up approach to the health and care system, especially through combining our strengths in citizen and community inclusion; our four populations-in-focus have helped us enormously. Similarly, our increasing collaboration with the Eastern Academic Health Sciences Network with joint projects, funding and posts, will help us build upon the improvements in the implementation of evidence we have enjoyed. Links with Public Health England, its successor organisations and NIHR brings the public health interventions responsive studies team (PHIRST) to improve evaluation for local authorities, while collaboration with a new, Health Foundation-funded innovation hub develops our evaluation activity further.
I have been particularly impressed by the growth in breadth and depth of our capacity building, especially where it has involved new collaborations between our four universities and partner organisations and building on our established Fellowship Scheme (currently live for 2022 applicants). The Social Care Research in Practice Teams (SCRiPT) will help extend the research capacity building into social care practice in Hertfordshire and Norfolk, while an award from the NIHR to develop infrastructure to increase capability and capacity for mental health and social care research will target under-served communities, especially around our coastline.
We had thought of few, if any of these initiatives 30 months ago; 2022 will see us working on them as well as continuing to complete projects we planned from the start but leaves me wondering what else is in store by this time next year..!