Tag: RCBC Wales

Research capacity building in Wales

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) here in the UK tells us that, at the end of March 2014, there were 680,858 nurses and midwives on the register. The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), which regulates 16 different professions, tells us that on the same date approximately 322,000 individuals were registered. Adding these numbers together gives a total in excess of one million. That’s an awful lot of registrants. Only a small number of these, however, are directly engaged in research to inform current and future practice and fewer still have had opportunities to become fully independent investigators. As the Shape of Caring review puts it with regard to nursing:

It is currently estimated that 0.1 per cent of the nursing workforce in England are professors of nursing: an indication that there are simply inadequate numbers for the task of leading research and evidence-based practice. Many of these academics will retire in the next 10 to 15 years.

Given this mismatch, efforts to grow research are immensely important. Leading the way in this part of the UK is the RCBC Wales scheme, which:

[…] was established in order to increase the research capacity of nursing, midwifery and allied health professions in Wales and to contribute toward the development of clinical academic roles.

I was fortunate enough to be awarded an RCBC Wales post-doctoral research fellowship in 2006. In the last few weeks three Cardiff-based colleagues have been successful in securing the same in the most recent round of applications: Dr Jessica Baillie, Dr Lucie Warren and Dr Liba Sheeran. Jess is a nurse who will be researching the experiences of people who develop peritonitis as a result of peritoneal dialysis, Lucie is a midwife who will be investigating an intervention to improve the diet and physical activity of pregnant women, and Liba is a physiotherapist who is exploring how smartphone technology can help people recovering from back pain. Congratulations to all three.

Building research capacity

Last night I enjoyed an evening event in Cardiff with other past, and present, members of the RCBC (Research Capacity Building Collaboration) Wales Community of Scholars. This is a collaborative venture supported by higher education institutions, with funds now coming from NISCHR. Since coming into being in 2006 the RCBC programme has sought to develop research capacity across nursing, midwifery and the allied health professions. I’ve written about the scheme on this blog before (see here and here), and am personally grateful for the support I received as an RCBC Post-Doctoral Fellow which enabled me to complete my study into the work and system impact of crisis resolution and home treatment teams. For more on what I found in that project, check out these green open access articles saved in Cardiff University’s ORCA repository:

Hannigan B. and Coffey M. (2011) Where the wicked problems are: the case of mental health. Health Policy 101 (3) 220-227

Hannigan B. (2014) ‘There’s a lot of tasks that can be done by any’: findings from an ethnographic study into work and organisation in UK community crisis resolution and home treatment services. Health: an Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine 18 (4) 406-421

Hannigan B. and Evans N. (2013) Critical junctures in health and social care: service user experiences, work and system connections. Social Theory & Health 11 (4) 428-444

Hannigan B. (2013) Connections and consequences in complex systems: insights from a case study of the emergence and local impact of crisis resolution and home treatment services. Social Science & Medicine 93 212-219

Last night began with a talk from Tina Donnelly, Director of RCN Wales and Commanding Officer of the 203 Welsh Field Hospital. In introducing Tina, RCBC Grant Holder Professor Donna Mead (from the University of South Wales) shared the news that the RCBC scheme has received confirmation from NISCHR of continued funding. That’s good, and means we can look forward to more doctoral (and hopefully, post-doctoral) opportunities in the coming months and years.

 

Reviewing health and social care research in Wales (reprise)

Time this morning, before I head off for a second day of MMI-ing, to draw attention to revised restructuring proposals from (and for) the National Institute for Social Care and Health Research here in Wales. I’ve written about the NISCHR review in this earlier post, and this latest document is the version which has gone out for external peer review.

I’m pleased to see that NISCHR proposes a continuation of its support for research capacity building in nursing and the allied health professions. Here’s a snip from the new document:

Research Capacity Building Collaboration (RCBC) – RCBC was established in 2006 as a collaboration between six universities in Wales to increase research capacity in nursing/midwifery and the allied health professions in Wales. It does this through a number of funding schemes including PhD Studentships and Post-doctoral Fellowships.
v. It is proposed that a new specification is developed for an application for renewal of RCBC/ a new initiative to increase research capacity in nursing/midwifery and the allied health professions in Wales.

For those not familiar with the RCBC scheme I recommend a visit to this website.

Elsewhere, I see that NISCHR proposes pressing ahead with its plans to close the gap between its funded Registered Research Groups, Biomedical Research Centres and Biomedical Research Units. It says:

There is a need to further integrate the functions of the BRC, BRUs and RRGs into the NISCHR infrastructure and to provide clear objectives and indicators to ensure NISCHR funding makes a real difference and contributes to future outcomes. There is also a need to avoid duplication and address the perception of NISCHR’s infrastructure being unnecessarily complicated.
b. It is proposed to create new entities known as NISCHR Centres and Units. These will replace BRCs, BRUs and RRGs and become central pillars of the NISCHR infrastructure to create a more streamlined and integrated structure, improve cost-effectiveness and foster collaboration across sectors to facilitate translation.
c. It is proposed that NISCHR Centres will have responsibility for portfolio development and delivery in their areas across the translational spectrum, in collaboration with other elements of the infrastructure. In some instances they may also provide elements of infrastructure support themselves.
d. It is proposed that NISCHR Units will be smaller entities than NISCHR Centres and focus on specific points of the translational spectrum, specific activities, or represent emerging areas of research strength with aspirations to become NISCHR Centres in the future.
e. It is proposed that a competition is held for NISCHR Centres and Units; the existing BRC, BRUs and RRGs will be able to apply and be encouraged to consider how best to augment existing functions and strengths to become more integrated entities in the future. They may also incorporate the functions of other elements of the existing infrastructure. The NISCHR Centres and Units will have a Director, Operational Manager and Leads for specific specialties/areas. They will be multi-professional and multidisciplinary, including Public and Patient, NHS, HEI, Industry and Social Care representation as appropriate.

This is a significant, if not unexpected, proposal. As future arrangements begin to become clearer I’ll be looking for ways to make sure that research into mental health systems and services continues to be supported. Plenty to think about, then, as I head for the train.

Reviewing health and social care research in Wales

Here in Wales, a month or so ago the National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR) published a document outlining ideas for its restructuring, and opened a discussion on how research should be prioritised, organised and supported in the future. NISCHR says that it:

[…] proposes to engage its stakeholders, including patients, the public, the NHS, social care organisations, universities, industry, the third sector and other government departments to review the infrastructure and programmes it currently funds and help determine what changes should be made.

Now, details of a series of open meetings have appeared. I’ve registered for the November 29th meeting taking place at the Cardiff City Stadium. I will also be offering up some ideas for the School of Healthcare Sciences’ collective response.

A number of things are currently brought together under the NISCHR umbrella. Funding is provided for national-level registered research groups (RRGs), regionally based academic health science collaborations (or partnerships) and a biomedical research centre and series of biomedical research units. Social care research is assisted through capacity-building funding. Support is also provided for Involving People, and for all-Wales training in research governance and related matters. Studies on the NISCHR portfolio are eligible for funded, in-the-field, help via a network of clinical studies officers and research nurses. NISCHR also oversees approval processes for NHS research, funds a number of trials units and has (this year) launched a faculty. There is also the small matter of NISCHR’s competitive funding schemes, which provide project-by-project support for high-quality studies of importance to health and social care in Wales.

Given all of this, NISCHR’s review is, I think, an important process to be contributing to. One of the NISCHR schemes mentioned in the review document is the Research Capacity Building Collaboration for Nursing and Allied Health Professionals (RCBC Wales). This has been an excellent initiative, entirely delivering (so far as I can tell) on its ambitions to develop capacity. As such, it deserves to be continued (and better still, expanded). I have to declare an interest here, of course, being an alumni of the RCBC Wales scheme having secured a postdoctoral fellowship in 2006. This was the funding which allowed me to investigate the establishment, work and wider system impact of crisis resolution and home treatment services, as I’ve variously blogged about in the past here, here and here.

The NISCHR document also draws attention to the use of Welsh health and social care research funds to support NIHR NETSCC Programmes. This paves the way for researchers in Wales to apply, on an equal footing to colleagues in England, for support from the HS&DR Programme, the HTA Programme and others. This mechanism facilitates cross-UK collaboration, which has to be a good thing. It is only through this support that Wales-based colleagues and I have been able to work on the COCAPP and RiSC projects.

I also see mention by NISCHR of an ongoing review of the operation of R&D offices, and in this regard I hope that a way is found to further rationalise approval and governance processes. The NHS research passport system could be better (it’s not really much of a ‘passport’ at all), and there are variations still in the ways different R&D offices process applications.

It is also clear that NISCHR is considering the level and type of support it offers to its all-Wales RRGs, and the connections these might have with biomedical research centres and biomedical research units working in overlapping areas. NISCHR is, if I understand this correctly, thinking through how organisations like the Mental Health Research Network Cymru and the National Centre for Mental Health might relate.

So, there we have it: evidence that changes to health and social care research organisation and funding in Wales are on the cards, with plenty of time remaining for people with an interest to get involved in shaping future arrangements.