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NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce

£65 million new NIHR investment in research to inform government decision-making: King’s College London and the Institute for Fiscal Studies to head the new NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce

2 July 2018

The National Institute for Health Research has today launched a new set of 13 NIHR Policy Research Units to undertake research to inform decision-making by government and arms-length bodies.

The £65 million investment over five years will ensure that the government and arms-length bodies have the best possible information and evidence available when making policy decisions about health and social care.

The 13 new NIHR units will provide both a long-term resource for policy research and a rapid-response service to provide evidence for emerging policy needs. The units, which are considered to be an exemplar of good practice in government1, will also offer advice to policy makers and analysts on the evidence base and options for policy development.

As well as a new unit focussing on the Health and Social Care Workforce, the units will cover a range of specialisms and conditions, such as behavioural science, adult social care, older people and frailty, and cancer awareness, screening and early diagnosis.

The King’s College London and Institute for Fiscal Studies unit brings together a multidisciplinary team of leading researchers to create a critical mass of experts for research in priority areas of health and social care workforce policy. The new NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce will work closely with the Department of Health and Social Care to determine priorities and provide evidence directly to the Secretary of State for Health, government departments and arms-length bodies, such as NHS England and Public Health England.

This continues but expands the role of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London whose work is rolling over to the new unit. Unit Director, Prof Jill Manthorpe, said ‘We are greatly looking forward to our new role in addressing the workforce challenges for policy makers across health and social care. Millions of people work in health and social care services and want to do a great job. The public relies on them at the moment of their birth and often at the end of life; this makes workforce research hugely important to us all. Everyone remembers the health and social care practitioner who was kind, competent and there for them; policy makers need to make sure that people are in post, properly paid and rewarded, and can do their best. We hope to help policy makers reach the right decisions and take into account what matters as well as what costs.’  

As well as the research team from the current Social Care Workforce Research Unit, the new unit expands with the joining of economic researchers from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (Dr Elaine Kelly and Prof Carol Propper), and the King’s College London’s Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care (Prof Anne Marie Rafferty), its Business School (Prof Ian Kessler) and with public and patient involvement led by Mrs Pida Ripley.

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health and Social Care, said:

'Patients and the public deserve a healthcare system that is informed by the latest research and evidence. The NIHR Policy Research Units will make sure that Government decisions affecting our health and care are robust and evidence based.'

These new units, which will begin work in January 2019, join two existing units in mental health and obesity.

The 15 NIHR Policy Research Units comprise:

  • NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce
  • NIHR Policy Research Unit in Adult Social Care
  • NIHR Policy Research Unit in Behavioural Science
  • NIHR Policy Research Unit in Cancer Awareness, Screening and Early Diagnosis
  • NIHR Policy Research Unit in Children and Families
  • NIHR Policy Research Unit in Economic Methods of Evaluation in Health and Social Care Interventions
  • NIHR Policy Research Unit in Economics of Health Systems and Interface with Social Care
  • NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Systems and Commissioning
  • NIHR Policy Research Unit in Maternal and Neonatal Health and Care
  • NIHR Policy Research Unit in Mental Health
  • NIHR Policy Research Unit in Obesity
  • NIHR Policy Research Unit in Older People and Frailty
  • NIHR Policy Research Unit in Policy Innovation and Evaluation
  • NIHR Policy Research Unit in Public Health
  • NIHR Policy Research Unit in Quality Safety and Outcomes of Health and Social Care

More about the Policy Research Units at the NIHR website

1Institute for Government. How government can work with academia. 05 June 2018.

Notes to Editors

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): improving the health and wealth of the nation through research. Established by the Department of Health and Social Care, the NIHR:

  • funds high quality research to improve health
  • trains and supports health researchers
  • provides world-class research facilities
  • works with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all
  • involves patients and the public at every step

For further information, visit the NIHR website (www.nihr.ac.uk) or contact Prof Jill Manthorpe on 077 11 268 798 or jill.manthorpe@kcl.ac.uk

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