Collaboration is key to encouraging a research-rich region, according to research leaders speaking at a recent healthcare event.

More than 200 people from across the North East and North Cumbria’s research and healthcare community attended the ‘Working Together…Differently’ event at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland.

Organised by the NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria, the event shone the spotlight on how collaborative working has played a pivotal role in establishing the North East as a well-respected, research-active region.

A wide range of speakers from across the region’s NHS Foundation Trusts, CCGs, Primary Care services, universities and research organisations shared insights into recent successes and what can be done to build on the achievements of the North East and North Cumbria going forward.

Ken Bremner, Chief Executive of South Tyneside and Sunderland Healthcare Group, discussed the roles of sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs), accountable care organisations, accountable care systems, integrated care systems and, most importantly, the broad agreement of the North East and North Cumbria going for one STP as a single accountable care system.

Speaking after the event, he said: “The North East is home to some very innovative and exciting individuals and organisations who are coming together to make healthcare research happen. We’re fortunate enough to have access to organisations, such as the Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria, which can help deliver these vital research projects. But there’s always more that can be done to strengthen our position across the region by pooling together ideas and resources.

“Events like this one highlight why it is so important to invest in research now to help patients and the NHS in years to come.”

Professor Stephen Robson, Clinical Director at the NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria, said: “We’re delighted to have had such a knowledgeable and accomplished line up of speakers join us at the event, which showcased the commitment to research in the region.

“In the North East and North Cumbria we have a talented pool of people who are passionate about improving the quality of health care through healthcare research. By working together, sharing best practice and learning from others’ experiences, we can continue to build on the region’s reputation as a collaborative environment promoting research and innovation.”

Other key themes discussed at the event, included the importance of engaging with Primary Care, building research capacity in the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions (North East NMAHP Research Strategy), workforce recruitment, development of the Great North Care Record, disease incidence and prevalence and the NIHR Innovation Observatory.

Professor Joe McDonald, Director of Connected Health Cities, explained to delegates the importance of the Great North Care Record. The Great North Care Record allows patient data to be accessed by different health and care professionals.

Prof. Joe McDonald said: “There is huge amount of data sitting in patient records in the NHS. Appropriately sharing this data is vital for individual care, and to improve health, care and services across the NHS. We can share the information contained within health records, and with appropriate permission, this information can be unlocked to help understand more about disease, develop new treatments, monitor safety, plan NHS services and evaluate policies.”

At the event there was a series of workshops focusing on supporting workforces through their research career pathway, lessons learned from adopting innovation and changing practice, maximising research opportunities for patients in the region, and strengthening the patient and public voice in research.

To learn more about clinical trials, visit: www.nihr.ac.uk/nencumbria or the UK Clinical Trials Gateway: https://www.ukctg.nihr.ac.uk/