£20m programme to improve
health in the North
A ground breaking £20 million project
has been launched which will see 4 Northern City regions using data and
technology in a revolutionary new way to help improve patient care and
ultimately save lives.
The Health North 'Connected Health Cities' plan will see health experts
from across the North of England collaborating to ensure local services work
together to better tackle issues like unplanned hospital admissions for patients
with chronic diseases.
They will use existing healthcare data to generate new insights into how they
can identify at risk patients earlier, provide better support for patients who
care for themselves and make better, more targeted use of community based care.
In the North West Coast region of Cheshire, Merseyside, Lancashire and south
Cumbria, the focus is on providing better coordinated health and social care to
patients affected by alcohol misuse; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
A 'Senate' of interested citizens and patients has been established to
give their views on the work as it progresses, alongside a core group of lead
organisations; the Innovation Agency; AIMES Grid Services, a community interest
company providing a data centre; the University of Liverpool and Lancaster
University; and clinical colleagues across the NHS.
Health and Innovation Minister Nicola Blackwood MP said:- "It is fantastic
to see Health North bringing data from different City regions together to
benefit the patients they serve. This project could set an exciting precedent of
working collaboratively across regions, with the potential to be replicated
right across the country."
A member of the North West Coast public
involvement Senate, Neil Fow from Leyland said:- "I am on various
medications, but am not on oxygen. A couple of years ago the doctor changed my
tablets for high blood pressure and this caused a real problem. I had a bad
reaction to the new tablets which mimicked the symptoms of a heart attack.
An Ambulance was called and while I was struggling to breathe, panicking a
little as I thought I was having a heart attack, I was bombarded with questions
about my condition by the paramedics. How much better it would have been if they
had had access to my medical history and perhaps this would have got me
treatment quicker, who knows?"
Local patients are being invited to get involved, to make sure actual health
needs are being addressed by the project. Citizen juries will be set up so that
programme leaders can understand more about public attitudes to the use of
health data in research.
Innovation Agency Chief Executive Dr Liz Mear, who chairs the North West Coast
Connected Health Cities Board, said:- "There is already some fantastic
work going on in our region to enable organisations to share appropriately
consented data, so that care can be improved. What Connected Health Cities will
do is accelerate the pace and scope of this work, giving much benefit to
Professor Mike Pearson, Medical Director for
North West Coast Connected Health Cities, said:- "This is about making the
data within the health service work for patients. We have clinical and
informatics expertise to turn data into information that can help front line
staff as they treat patients and the technical expertise to ensure that
confidentiality and security are maintained. Our target projects address 2 of
the commonest reasons for needing hospital help and there is every prospect of
making a difference both to significant numbers of people and to the services
The project, called Health North, is being developed by the Northern Health
Science Alliance (NHSA), a health partnership which spans the region and brings
together the North's leading university medical schools, NHS teaching hospitals
and Academic Health Science Networks including the Innovation Agency in the
North West Coast.
It is hoped that by working more closely together, the collaborations, which
also include local authorities, will create a more complete picture of local
health and social care.
Existing and under used health data will be used for a number of projects
including looking to reduce falls in elderly patients, helping to spot alcohol
misuse at an earlier stage and cutting the inappropriate use of antibiotics.
The project is also keen to reduce the amount of time it takes for new medical
technology and clinical techniques to be used in local areas by exploring how
quickly evidence of their effectiveness can be given to decision makers.
The north has been picked for the pioneering project in a bid to reduce health
inequalities, improve dialogue between health services and patients and to
optimise health and social care services.
Protecting the data used by the project is crucial and strict controls will be
set to ensure patient confidentiality is maintained.
The Chair of the Northern Health Science Alliance Professor Ian Greer said:-
"The NHSA is delighted to be able to deliver the Health North project, and
these first Connected Health Cities pilots are just the start of ensuring that
we improve the health as well as the wealth of the Northern Powerhouse."