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First researchers getting ready to move into new Wolfson centre

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An artiistic render of the new Wolfson Centre yet to be built

The first researchers will soon be moving into a new Bradford-based centre set to improve the health and wellbeing of children and the elderly.

The Wolfson Centre for Applied Health Research brings together researchers from the Universities of Leeds and Bradford with clinicians from Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. It has been built in the grounds of Bradford Royal Infirmary, one of the Trust’s hospitals.

The Centre has been made possible thanks to a £1m award from national charity The Wolfson Foundation, which gives grants to support and promote excellence in the fields of science, medicine, the arts and humanities, education and health and disability.

The new building hosts the Centre for Ageing, one of the UK’s most successful research groups in applied health research for older people, and the National Institute for Health Research’s National Patient Safety Centre. Its work around child health will include the ground-breaking ‘Born in Bradford’ and ‘Born in Bradford’s Better Start’ cohorts.

By combining the expertise of health researchers with clinicians who have daily contact with patients, the centre will ensure that its findings are put rapidly into practice – resulting in better health and social care for those who need it most, right here in Yorkshire.

The three areas it will address have been identified as key health priorities for the county:

  • Healthy Childhood: a child’s health is the foundation for their lifelong mental and physical well-being, yet a recent UNICEF report showed the UK is lagging behind our European neighbours on this important measure. The centre will examine how to reduce inequalities in the health and development of young people, and seek out the early-years interventions which are most effective.
  • Healthy Ageing: as our life expectancy has increased, so has the number of elderly people living with long-term medical conditions, limiting their quality of life and placing a growing burden on health and care services. The Wolfson Centre will develop new models of care for frail elderly patients, those with dementia and those facing debilitating musculoskeletal conditions. It will also work to improve systems of care for the terminally ill.
  • High Quality and Safe Care: health data shows huge variations in the standard of care received by patients in hospitals and clinics; a recent survey showed there are almost 12,000 preventable adult deaths a year in England alone. Research in the centre will develop new methods of care that are safe, patient-centred and harness the potential of new technologies.

Professor John Wright, Director of the Bradford Institute for Health Research at the Foundation Trust, said: “We are looking forward to working with our partners to develop the new national Wolfson Centre for Applied Health Research. This project is so exciting because it will improve the health and wellbeing of people in our communities by speeding up the translation of research into real benefits for patients.”

Professor Gail Mountain, Professor of Applied Dementia Research and Head of Dementia Studies at the University of Bradford, said: “The Centre for Applied Dementia Studies is passionate about improving the improving the lives of older people including those with dementia. The Wolfson centre is a great opportunity for us to engage in a forward thinking research agenda with clinical and research colleagues. It will provide exciting new pathways for our early career researchers and facilitate new partnerships, locally, nationally and internationally. We are really pleased to be part of this joint initiative.”

Professor Paul Stewart, Executive Dean for the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Leeds, added: “The award for funds to develop this centre is pivotal for the University of Leeds as we seek to extend our outreach and partnership with colleagues in Bradford. Our research will focus on at risk populations, extremes of age, and delivery of high quality and safe care will be fundamental steps in improving health outcomes for both patients in Bradford and the West Yorkshire region.”

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