RDS NW e-bulletin – September 2023

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RDS NW e-bulletin

September 2023


Paving the way for the new NIHR Research Support Service

For nearly 15 years, the NIHR Research Design Service North West (RDS NW) has been supporting researchers in Health, Social Care and Public Health to apply for research funding. This has not only been NIHR research funding but has also included charity and research council funding. We have helped nearly 4000 research grant applications and supported successful research grants with over £266 million of grant income into North West organisations.

We have provided advice in all areas of developing a research grant application, not just in research design and methodology but in other areas e.g. Grant application writing, Public Involvement in research, identifying appropriate research funding programmes and identifying appropriate collaborators.

All this has helped to ensure high quality research is delivered, leading to health and care benefits for patients, service users, carers and the public.

The RDS NW will be closing it doors to new advice requests on 30 September 2023, ready for the new national service, the NIHR Research Support Service (RSS), to start on 1 October 2023. The RSS will support researchers with their funding applications, providing both pre- and post-application support as well as opportunities for collaboration.

So, in our final e-bulletin we would just like to end by thanking all those who have accessed our service, helped spread the word about our service, worked with us, our staff past and present, and our public contributors. Without whom we would not have been able to get £266 million of research funded for North West organisations.


New Research Programme for Social Care

The NIHR Research for Social Care (RfSC) programme has been replaced with the NIHR’s new Research Programme for Social Care (RPSC), with the programme’s first call available now.

The Director of the programme is Professor Martin Knapp.

The new £10m funding programme, focusing on social care research will fund research which generates evidence to improve, expand and strengthen the way social care is delivered for users of care services, carers, the social care workforce, and the public.

RPSC will fund research focused on improving social care for both adults and children. The programme is encouraging applications from researchers at all stages of their careers. Funding will be available for a wide range of social care research topics and research designs.


Valuing the role of the voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise sector in social care research report

The voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise (VCFSE) sector is a major source of health, care and wellbeing support to millions of people in England. It provides a very broad array of services, with and on behalf of statutory health and care providers, such as NHS trusts and local authority organisations.

The VCFSE sector is large and diverse, particularly in social care, with over 31,000 charities working to improve the lives of elderly people, people with disabilities, and people living with mental health conditions, and those with a great many other needs. Many local VCFSE organisations have grown in response to unmet need. They are close to communities and, as such, are experts in identifying the assets, needs and aspirations of the people and communities they support.

Organisations within the sector should be considered key partners delivering the NIHR mission to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research and to bring research to underrepresented regions and communities with major health and care needs.

A report has been published that presents the findings of a piece of work undertaken by NIHR Research Design Service in partnership with Birmingham Voluntary Service Council, to explore VCFSE involvement in social care research.


NIHR Research for Patient Benefit Competition 52

Competition 52 of the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) programme is open, with a deadline for stage 1 applications of 11 November 2023 at 1.00 pm.

Applications for research proposals that are concerned with the day-to-day practice of health service staff, and that have the potential to have an impact on the health or wellbeing of patients and users of the NHS are invited.

As a researcher-led programme, RfPB does not specify topics for research but instead encourages proposals for projects that address a wide range of health service issues and challenges.

The programme aims to fund high quality quantitative and qualitative research with a clear trajectory to patient benefit. It particularly encourages applications that have a strong element of interaction with patients and the public and that have been conceived in association with a relevant group of service users.

Guidance on stage 1 application is available.


NIHR Pre-Application Support Fund

The Pre-Application Support Fund provides extra support to those who need it to enhance their chances of making a successful application to an NIHR career development scheme in the future. Rather than part of a standard NIHR career pathway, the Pre-Application Support Fund is there for individuals who require additional support to prepare a competitive application.

Applicants can request funding for up to 12 months to develop a competitive application for an NIHR career development scheme. This includes:

    • a contribution to the salary of the applicant to buy out the necessary time to prepare an application
    • training and development, mentorship or supervisory costs specifically associated with developing an application, and
    • other costs where the additional support required to submit an application extends beyond the categories outlined above.

The first round of the scheme opened on 19 September and closes on 30 November 2023. Three rounds will be held per year to provide regular opportunities to apply for the scheme.


NIHR Mental Health Research Initiative: Mental Health Research Groups

The NIHR is planning an exciting and significant new investment in mental health research in areas with high mental health burden and low research capacity.

Up to 10 Mental Health Research Groups (MHRGs) will be established via a new funding scheme, located in geographical areas in England with high mental health burden, limited local research capacity in mental health and low recruitment into mental health research studies.

Mental health problems are the single largest cause of disability across the country, and many regions/communities, despite having a high prevalence of mental health problems, do not receive sufficient support. This imbalance is also reflected in mental health research activity, where most of the funding and expertise is centred in a small number of institutions. To address the unequal distribution of mental health research capacity and capability, the NIHR is planning a range of development opportunities targeted at geographical areas with limited or no existing mental health research activity and expertise, to establish mental health research activity where it is needed most.

A webinar for potential applicants is being held on 10 October, 12.30 pm to 2.00 pm, to introduce the awards and provide an opportunity to ask questions.

More information on MHRG call.


Extra £30m a year to boost research careers for healthcare professionals

NIHR will spend an additional £30 million per year to increase research opportunities. It will include funding for a range of new and expanding programmes of activity. This will enable more healthcare professionals to include research in their careers.

This funding will help a wide range of healthcare professionals across England, including:

  • nurses
  • midwives
  • allied health professionals
  • pharmacists
  • healthcare scientists

The support aims to help them develop as highly skilled researchers and research leaders.

Read more of this news article.


£25m funding boost for research into Long Term Health Conditions

The NIHR is investing £25m to fund new research into multiple long-term conditions (MLTC).

Older people are more likely to live with MLTC, yet the burden of MLTC at all ages is significant. Younger people living with MLTC also have complex care needs requiring treatment, and support.

This new research, looking to advance and develop research into MLTC, is co-funded by the UK Research and Innovation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The commissioning for this large-scale programme is part of a phased approach. Now in the first phase, nine groups have been awarded a total of £1.75million. This will allow them to undertake development work to establish specialist Innovation Hubs.

Read the full MLTC article.


NIHR funding opportunities

Find more NIHR funding opportunities here.


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