University joins £3.4m health data initiative to address major health challenges

Health news

Health Data Research (HDR) UK is today announcing the funding of a £3.4m innovative data initiative in the north of England, involving experts from the University of Leeds.

The Better Care North Partnership (HDR UK North) initiative will benefit patients across the UK and help address some of the most challenging health issues facing patients and the NHS. 

It aims to improve the care and services for patients by supporting the better use of data and analytical tools and includes projects that aim to benefit some of the most vulnerable patient groups in communities across Leeds and the wider Yorkshire region.

The project is supported by a £1.2m investment from HDR UK and £2.2m from the partner institutions. 

Growing impact of an ageing population

The major challenge for the partnership is addressing the issue of frailty, an area of unmet clinical and social care need that affects 10% of people aged over 65, rising to 25-50% of people aged over 85 years. This accounts for £15 billion of expenditure in the UK and is likely to have a growing impact due to the ageing UK population.

The partnership of 15 organisations from across the North will initially focus on improving monitoring of residents in care homes to detect deterioration, reducing the burden of use of anticholinergic medicines, and optimising prescribing of antibiotics, thereby reducing the potential for antimicrobial resistance.

Andy Clegg, Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Leeds, based at the Academic Unit of Ageing and Stroke Research (AUASR). As Associate Director of HDR UK North, Andy is leading the work to reduce anticholinergic medication burden, in partnership with colleagues across the University of Leeds, University of Liverpool, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (BTHFT), Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust (LTHT) and Bradford University.

Professor Clegg said: “HDR UK North is a hugely exciting initiative, which will enable us to use health data to develop personalised care for older people living with frailty and care home residents that is better targeted to their individual needs.

"We have fantastic expertise in frailty and health data research in Leeds, and the partnership will involve collaborative working with NHS colleagues from BTHFT and LTHT, along with leading researchers from northern Universities, NHS primary care, our local authorities and commercial partners.

"This close collaborative partnership will ensure we maintain a focus on using our research findings to directly improve health and care services for older people living with frailty across Yorkshire, the north of England, and the UK.”

Multidisciplinary world-leading expertise

The partnership in the north features a team of researchers from the University of Liverpool led by Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, the David Weatherall Chair of Medicine, NHS Chair of Pharmacogenetics at the University of Liverpool, Director of the MRC Centre for Drug Safety Science and Wolfson Centre for Personalised Medicine.

Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, added: “This partnership brings together world-class Universities, digitally enabled NHS institutions and academic health science systems.

"It is underpinned by multidisciplinary, world-leading expertise in population-based learning health systems research and a history of collaborative working, to address major challenges in frailty, an area of unmet medical and social care need.

“We serve over 16 million people in the North where the rates of poverty, morbidity, premature mortality and poorer clinical outcomes are higher than in other regions. As our population gets older, frailty and more widely, multi-morbidity, exert huge system pressures.

“This partnership will help us to use all available data and advanced analytical techniques to gain actionable insights for optimising delivery of care for those who need it most.”


Professor Simon Ball, Medical Director at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and Research Director at Health Data Research UK, said: “As healthcare professionals we make hundreds of decisions a week with our patients. In doing so we aim to decide what will work best for each individual.

"Electronic healthcare records offer the opportunity to combine patients’ data with information on best practice, so that we can reliably deliver high quality care in complex settings and pressured environments. Beyond that we can use the resulting data on patients’ outcomes and experience, to continuously learn from, and improve on, everyday practice in ways that are applicable across the NHS.”.

Further information: 

For further information, please contact the University of Leeds press office:

The following organisations are members of The Better Care North Partnership; Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, Lancaster University, The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, University of Leeds, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Trust, University of Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trusts, Newcastle University, Salford Royal Foundation Trust, University of Sheffield, South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System and Wirral University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The partners will also be working closely with the four Northern Academic Health Science Networks and researchers at Durham University to deliver this project.

The Northern Health Science Alliance, an alliance of 24 universities, NHS trusts and Academic Health Science Networks across the North of England, supported the bid through project management across a broad coalition of partners and in engagement with the NHS