North West London Patient Safety Research Collaboration secures renewed funding

An Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial College London research partnership has been awarded NIHR funding to improve patient safety.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has announced that researchers at the NIHR Imperial Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (PSTRC) have received renewed funding, to become the NIHR North West London Patient Safety Research Collaboration (NWL PSRC), hosted by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

This is an award of a fourth round of funding to become a PSRC between 2023-2028, which will help the Collaboration with its vision to advance patient safety through evidence-based solutions that respond to real needs of healthcare systems, as well as addressing some of the strategic patient safety challenges identified by NHS England. These strategic challenges include the safety of different service delivery models, patient safety behaviours and practices, and the better use of data to understand and monitor patient safety.  

To meet these aims, the NWL PSRC will focus on four themes:

  • influencing patient and healthcare worker behaviours to optimise safety and minimise risk
  • developing and testing technologies that enhance medication safety
  • using integrated care data to address patient safety challenges
  • evaluating and integrating patient safety in the design of new service delivery models.

Impact on patient safety
The NIHR Imperial PSTRC has had a demonstrable impact across the last 15 years, such as in using behavioural science to improve cancer screening. By exploring how public communication in screening could increase uptake, researchers conducted trials with 15,000 women using different text message (SMS) reminders. This work led to the NHS Cervical Screening programme running a London-wide screening SMS campaign, and reported an increase in screening of 4.8% (13,400 more women) after six months. This SMS reminder is now standard practice and part of Public Health England guidance.

The impact and role of patient safety research programmes has become even more crucial following the Covid-19 pandemic, which has had significant implications for patient safety due to disruption of care delivery and difficulties in accessing care. The Imperial PSTRC worked hard to ensure patient safety remained at the forefront of global efforts, creating one of the world’s biggest studies of community Covid-19 testing.

NIHR North West London PSRC
The NIHR NWL PSRC will now use this latest funding award to deliver a research programme of further impact, bringing together Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, University College London, and the North West London Integrated Care System, as well as a range of other collaborators across academia, industry, charity, integrated care systems, and national and international bodies.

This year, six PSRCs have been awarded NIHR funding, doubling the number of research centres that will share in the £25 million fund. The NIHR NWL PSRC will receive £2.6 million.

Professor Lord Ara Darzi, director of the existing NIHR Imperial PSTRC, said: “We are the longest running patient safety research centre in the UK, and we are pleased to continue our work to reduce harm and improve patient safety in the NHS and globally with this renewed support.”

Professor Bryony Dean Franklin, incoming co-director of the NIHR NWL PSRC said: “We are delighted to have our funding renewed, alongside additional centres being funded, and look forward to the extra opportunities for collaboration that this brings.”

Professor Tim Orchard, chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust which hosts the NIHR NWL PSRC, said: “This collaboration is a fantastic example of how partnership working, and bringing together our collective research and clinical expertise, is helping patients locally, nationally and globally.”

Professor Lucy Chappell, chief executive of the NIHR, said: “This new round of funding gives the best researchers the opportunity to assess innovations and approaches that could shift this balance for the better.”

The six PSRCs funded by NIHR are:

  • NIHR Greater Manchester Patient Safety Research Collaboration, hosted by Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust
  • NIHR Midlands Patient Safety Research Collaboration, hosted by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  • NIHR North West London Patient Safety Research Collaboration, hosted by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
  • NIHR Central London Patient Safety Research Collaboration, hosted by University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • NIHR Newcastle Patient Safety Research Collaboration, hosted by The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • NIHR Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Research Collaboration, hosted by Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.