How NIHR ARCs rose to the challenge of COVID-19


A national publication highlighting how National Institute for Health and Care Research Applied Research Collaborations (NIHR ARCs) rose to the challenge of COVID-19 launches today, the third anniversary of the first UK lockdown.

Vital work from across the ARCs in response to the pandemic is showcased in NIHR ARCs: Supporting the fight against COVID-19 (PDF), including ARC Yorkshire and Humber projects.

The publication brings together case studies demonstrating how ARCs pivoted their research programmes in response to the pandemic. It showcases work across a range of themes including children and young people, care homes, equality and diversity, end of life care and workforce planning.

The Bradford COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Group (CSAG) acted as the District’s very own Scientific Advisory Group, harnessing research expertise and infrastructure from across Born in Bradford, Bradford Institute for Health Research and our wider NIHR ARC Yorkshire and Humber.  The CSAG worked with communities and partners to identify and address some of the most pressing local questions when so much remained unknown – an approach recognised with CSAG winning a prestigious national Municipal Journal award for supporting local evidence-based responses to the pandemic.

Praising the value of this unique research-practice partnership, Kersten England, Chief Executive of the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council said, “C-SAG has provided strategic decision makers with the insights needed to understand the impacts of this unprecedented situation and to help target our response”.

The publication was led by NIHR ARC East Midlands, with communications support from NIHR ARC West. In the foreword, the ARC Directors write:

“In 2020, we made rapid changes to our research programmes across the ARCs, to inform policy and practice, improve health and care, and deliver national-level impact in this rapidly changing landscape.

“Our expertise in data modelling, multiple long-term conditions, mental health and social care alongside our ability to build and sustain collaborations across the NHS, social care, the voluntary sector and industry, has placed us in a unique position. We have been able to contribute to the efforts to understand the virus and its impact on communities, locally, nationally and globally. 

“This publication outlines our response as ARCs, both collectively and individually, to this challenge. It showcases the part we have played in supporting the health and care sector and patients, public and communities. We are proud of our part in lending our expertise to understanding the disease and assisting the global effort to contain it, improving outcomes and saving lives.”

Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR and the Department of Health and Social Care’s Chief Scientific Advisor, said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic was unlike any health crisis we had experienced for a century. In order for us to tackle the pandemic swiftly and strongly, we needed a collaborative and sustained approach across health and care research that harnessed the power of our collective effort like never before.

“This impressive report sets out how that effort was provided, extending across many different themes, specialisms, and areas of the country. It illustrates how researchers, working together to tackle a common cause, can have such an important impact for patients and the public.”

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