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Weekly Edition - Published  15 September 2016


Local News Report - Mobile Page


£20m programme to improve health in the North

North West Coast Connected Health Cities Chair Dr Liz Mear

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) and epilepsy.

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."

Leyland resident Neil Fow

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 residents."

North West Coast Connected Health Cities Medical Director Prof Mike Pearson

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 they use."

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."


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Southport Reporter (R) Bourder




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