Chancellor commits £20m ‘big picture’ data projects to tackle major health and social care challenges

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The Chancellor has announced £20m in the Budget to fund new health and social care information projects, aimed at tackling major health challenges by using ‘big picture’ data.

The funding has been awarded to the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), a partnership between universities and NHS Hospital Trusts in the North of England to improve the health and wealth of the region.

The University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust are included within the 16 partners of the NHSA. 

The Government’s Connected Health Cities initiative will see the NHSA bringing together the collective expertise of the North’s universities, teaching hospitals and local authorities and set up the world’s first health and social care partnership using large-scale data. 

Professor Paul Stewart, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Leeds, explained: 

“The ultimate end game is to deliver better outcomes for patients and communities. This is about creating a health ecosystem to unlock healthcare innovations, by connecting people and research, by connecting health and social care services, and by sharing existing information to address the greatest health challenges in the region. 

“This will drive public sector reform in health and social care, and the 15 million people in the North of England will be the first to benefit from the world-leading research going on in the region’s universities and hospitals. The funding will largely support an informatics approach joining Digital Cities/ health economies across the North.

“Leeds already has enormous strengths and NHSA leadership in Health informatics exemplified through the recent £7m investment from the Medical Research Council in our Medical Bioinformatics Centre.  By working with partners in the Northern Health Science Alliance, we are at the forefront of helping transform health and social services.”

By analysing integrated information and feeding this back to key professionals, including NHS practitioners, service managers, commissioners, local authority planners, researchers and policy makers, the NHSA’s project teams will be able to identify variations in patient and population needs.

In each of the areas, there will be a focus on at high priority NHS care pathways, including improving support for families with obese children, reducing alcohol-related A&E attendance, reducing the risk of breast cancer among high risk women and reducing the late detection and irreversible damage from chronic kidney disease.

Connected Health Cities will also enable new medical discoveries by working with the national Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research, which will aim to ensure that the benefits can be rapidly shared across other regions. 

The funding is part of the government’s Health North initiative and is the first investment in this area, announced by George Osborne on 18 March. 

For further information

Contact the University of Leeds press office on or call 0113 343 4031

For more details about the government’s investment in health and biomedical informatics in the UK, visit the informatics research page of the MRC website

Two multi-million pound grants have made the University of Leeds a major centre for big data analytics – and a national resource that can be used by academics. The Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA) is the home of two major programmes for data intensive research – the MRC Centre for Medical Bioinformatics and the ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre.

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