Since being set up, just over four years ago, the Applied Research Collaboration Kent, Surrey and Sussex (ARC KSS) has been working hard to deliver on its objectives to support applied health and care research that responds to and meets the needs of local populations and local and health and care systems in the region.
Funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), the ARC KSS is a partnership that brings together healthcare organisations, local authorities, universities, voluntary and private organisations delivering and supporting health and care services and representatives from local communities across the Southeast.
To date, it has funded or supported more than 165 research projects across the region.
During 2022/2023, it secured more than £1 million in co-funding from the region's universities, health, care and voluntary sector providers and almost £5 million funding from external sources, to support research that increases the involvement of health and care staff in research that leads to benefits for people using services in the region.
During the year, ARC KSS has been:
- Supporting more staff working in health and care organisations and equip them with the knowledge and methods of research.
- Increasing links with the Integrated Care Systems by establishing a panel of staff from across the region to support implementation of research into practice.
- Developing a more responsive evidence support service for the Integrated Care Boards.
- And, working with a team of researchers to develop an application for a new, single data gateway for health and care that will improve researcher's access to datasets.
According to feedback from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), as part of its annual reporting process, the ARC KSS has reported strong progress across all themes and initiatives and is making significant progress in relation to stakeholder engagement.
It has been commended for its work as the National Lead for Social Care, working with the NIHR's School for Social Care Research and noted for its work on improving end-of-life care through the 'Hospice at Home' services; and the significant impact research has already made across all projects, in particular, in the field of patient discharge pathways.
ARC KSS is one of 15 ARCs across England, originally funded by NIHR for five years (1 October 2019 to 30 September 2024). However, along with all other 14 ARCs, it has recently been awarded funding for an extension for a further 18 months - until 31 March 2026.
Professor Stephen Peckham, Director of ARC KSS, said:
" I feel that this year has been a coming of age for the ARC KSS. I am proud of the work undertaken by our researchers, public partners, support staff, implementation team at the Health Innovation Kent Surrey and Sussex and those leading our capacity building and training.
"The feedback we've had from the NIHR is a clear endorsement of the excellent work we have all been doing across Kent, Surrey and Sussex and shows what can be achieved by working together across our communities. I'd like to thank everyone involved with the ARC in helping us achieve this and look forward to continuing our work into 2026."