press release
Published: 11 July 2019

£9 million government funding announced for health and social care research to improve patient care in Kent, Surrey and Sussex

By Natasha Meredith

A new £9 million initiative to improve health and social care research has today been launched by the Department of Health and Social Care.


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This innovative new initiative is set to establish an Applied Research Collaboration in Kent, Surrey and Sussex. The funding from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) will be made available over five years and will be boosted by an additional £5m investment from local NHS trusts, local authorities and universities including the University of Surrey.

The Kent, Surrey and Sussex Applied Research Collaboration (ARCKSS) will bring together NHS Trusts, local authorities, universities, communities and other partners to support the development of innovative research to improve health and social care for patients and families in the south east. The collaboration, which will be coordinated by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, is designed to ensure the learning from research is used more quickly and systematically to improve patient care.

The collaboration will help address particular challenges in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, including:

  • Many of our coastal towns which are amongst the most socially deprived areas in England, with high unemployment and high levels of health and social care need
  • Higher than average children in care, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, and young people with self-harm and emotional problems
  • A growing older population with the highest concentration of people with dementia in the UK

We will work to improve research in areas such as social care, the mental health and wellbeing of children and adolescents, supporting people with dementia – particularly those with other health and social care needs as well, and working to improve primary and community services across the region.

“To cope with the growing demands on the NHS it is vital that the service thinks innovatively to ensure it is sustainable and serves the needs of patients and the public. The collaborative partnership between NHS Trusts and academics from across the south east will help tackle the challenges faced, through ground breaking research which can translate into a real world setting.” Professor Monique Raats, Associate Dean of Research and Innovation for the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Surrey. 

 “This exciting partnership will help us develop research knowledge that we can use to improve care and treatment for the patients, families and local communities we serve. Working together and sharing our expertise across the NHS, local government and university sector helps us deliver high quality health and social care for people affected by mental health problems and conditions such as dementia.” Sam Allen, CEO, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

“Having an ARC in Kent, Surrey and Sussex is a hugely exciting opportunity for us to build stronger research collaborations across the region that will focus specifically on improving patient care and clinical outcomes. The ARC is great for the organisations involved and great for patients, carers and families. This is exactly the recognition we need in Kent, Surrey and Sussex to further strengthen and develop our research programme. The ARC has strong leadership and also representation at Board level from people who use services to ensure we make the most of this wonderful opportunity.” Dr Rick Fraser, Chief Medical Officer, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

“This investment by NIHR to support research in Kent, Surrey and Sussex is recognition of the increasing quality of the health and social care research undertaken in the region in our NHS, universities and with local authorities. We welcome these much needed resources to strengthen our research capacity to improve services and outcomes for people living in the region.

 “I am delighted that Kent, Surrey and Sussex is going to benefit from the development of a local ARC. I am proud that the strong regional academic expertise will be applied to our local population health needs and that as a region we are able to demonstrate partnership between our academic community and our healthcare providers to deliver research. This venture can only make us stronger as a region and contribute to improving the health and wellbeing of our people.” Dr Kate Jones, Chief Operating Officer, NIHR Clinical Research Network Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

“I welcome the award of NIHR funding for a new ARC for Kent, Surrey and Sussex. The success in gaining one of these prestigious national awards is recognition of the close collaboration between this university and NHS organisations, local authorities and universities across this region. I am delighted that Professor Stephen Peckham, Director of our Centre for Health Services Studies, will be director of the new consortium and welcome our working partnership with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, as lead organisations within this new venture.” Professor Karen Cox, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Kent.

“As the population grows and demand on the NHS increases, it is paramount we develop the next generation of technologies and improve the way we work to ensure the NHS continues to offer world-leading care.

“The UK has a proud history of cutting edge health research and by supporting the great minds in health and social care, this funding has the potential to unlock solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing healthcare and revolutionise the way patients access treatments in the future.” Nicola Blackwood, Health Minister

The Applied Research Collaboration in Kent, Surrey and Sussex comes into force in October 2019.

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