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Public health practice will benefit from new HDA collaborating centres launched today

14 July 2004 @TeessideUni

 

Some of the best brains in the country will work together to strengthen intellectual and academic networks and promote best practice in public health as nine new collaborating centres are launched across England and Wales today by the Health Development Agency.

Based mainly in the university sector, the centres will each have their own focus on gathering evidence on what works to improve health and reduce health inequalities and building on practice development in areas such as smoking cessation and drug prevention. They will help strengthen public health infrastructure by creating a network of organisations and institutions working together to further develop HDA evidence and promote good practice.

These centres will enhance and maintain the evidence base in areas such as childhood accidental injury, maternal and child nutrition, the promotion of physical activity, the prevention of obesity and drug misuse. Others will focus on the practical issues of smoking cessation and tobacco control, maternal and child nutrition and community engagement.

Paul Streets, Chief Executive of the Health Development Agency said: “This is groundbreaking for England and we are looking forward to seeing some promising results. These new centres bring together universities and other institutions in a collaborative arrangement with the HDA. They will deliver evidence and advice that is both informed by and relevant to local practitioners, policy makers and planners and will provide an opportunity to boost delivery of the public health agenda, as well as investing in and developing resources at both the regional and local level.”

The collaborating centres are situated at Oxford University (in collaboration with Loughborough University), University of the West of England (Bristol) (in collaboration with the University of Newcastle and the Childhood Accident Prevention Trust), University of Teesside, University of Wales (College of Medicine), Liverpool John Moores University, Leeds University (in collaboration with the Universities of York and Coventry), Public Management Associates, Lancaster University and Queen Mary, University of London.

The University of Teesside’s Professor of Nutrition Carloyn Summerbell said: "The University of Teesside is looking forward to setting up an Evidence and Guidance Collaborating Centre on Obesity, and working with the Health Development Agency to provide support for the NICE guidance on Obesity that is expected to be available in Summer 2006. This opportunity will enhance the activity and profile of the existing Food and Nutriton Group. The group is currently involved in local, national and international research on the management of obesity, with much of this work focussing on pulling together the evidence base. It is essential to knowing what works, and what does not work, against how much it costs, if health care planners are to provide the best possible obesity services for the public."

In addition to these collaborating centres, the HDA has developed framework agreements with a further fifteen institutions which will allow the further rapid development of the collaborating centre approach in future years. Already proving successful is the Healthy Communities Collaborative launched by the HDA and National Primary Care Development Team in September 2003 with the aim of engaging communities and reducing the number of falls in the over-65 population in disadvantaged areas in the UK.