Professor Gene Feder selected to co-lead one of new NIHR Policy Units specialising in children and families

Professor Gene Feder from the University of Bristol has been announced as co-lead of a new NIHR Policy Research Unit specialising in Children and Families that will ensure the government and arms-length bodies have the best possible information and evidence available when making policy decisions about health and social care.

The new Unit is one of 13 announced this week by the NIHR as part of a £65 million investment over five years. The units will cover a range of specialisms and conditions, such as behavioural science, adult social care, older people and frailty, and cancer awareness, screening and early diagnosis, and will also offer advice to policy makers and analysts on the evidence base and options for policy development.

The NIHR Policy Research Unit in Children and Families, co led at Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care, will focus on three research themes in areas where Government policy has the potential to have a significant impact on health and wellbeing.

These comprise;

Early interventions; this research will explore how interventions early in life could give children the best possible start in life, minimising the risk that their health and wellbeing is affected by early-life adversity. Its key focus will be on prevention, of both physical and mental health problems.

Responding to vulnerable children and families; this research will examine how to improve the health, social care and other services offered to children and parents who are already in contact with health services and are living in adverse social and domestic circumstances.

Long-term conditions and disability; these studies will explore how best to safeguard the health and wellbeing of children affected by long-term physical and mental health conditions or disability and their families.

The new unit will also include a ‘responsive facility’, which will react promptly to enable the Department of Health and Social Care to access high-quality evidence and expertise related to specific policy-related questions

Gene Feder , Professor of Primary Care in the University’s Centre for Academic Primary Care , said: “We are delighted to have been selected to co-lead the new NIHR Policy Unit. Our new programme will build on and extend the work of the existing Children’s Policy Research Unit at UCL, which over the past 7 years has carried out research having a significant influence on policy and practice.

“Our research will have a strong focus on health inequalities and how these can be reduced, and domestic violence. We aim to generate evidence to support the development of Government policies to improve the health and wellbeing of children, young people and families.”

The 13 new NIHR units will provide both a long-term resource for policy research and a rapid-response service to provide evidence for emerging policy needs. The units will work closely with the Department of Health and Social Care to determine priorities and provide evidence directly to the Secretary of State for Health, government departments and arms-length bodies, such as NHS England and Public Health England.

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health and Social Care, said:

“Patients and the public deserve a healthcare system that is informed by the latest research and evidence. The NIHR Policy Research Units will make sure that Government decisions affecting our health and care are robust and evidence based.”

These new units, which will begin work in January 2019, join two existing units in mental health and obesity.

The 15 NIHR Policy Research Units will comprise:

NIHR Policy Research Unit in Adult Social Care

NIHR Policy Research Unit in Behavioural Science

NIHR Policy Research Unit in Cancer Awareness, Screening and Early Diagnosis

NIHR Policy Research Unit in Children and Families

NIHR Policy Research Unit in Economic Methods of Evaluation in Health and Social Care Interventions

NIHR Policy Research Unit in Economics of Health Systems and Interface with Social Care

NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Systems and Commissioning

NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce

NIHR Policy Research Unit in Maternal and Neonatal Health and Care

NIHR Policy Research Unit in Mental Health

NIHR Policy Research Unit in Obesity

NIHR Policy Research Unit in Older People and Frailty

NIHR Policy Research Unit in Policy Innovation and Evaluation

NIHR Policy Research Unit in Public Health

NIHR Policy Research Unit in Quality Safety and Outcomes of Health and Social Care