Category: Research

Update from Imperial College Research Ethics Committee

Calling all postgrads!

Imperial College London would like to recruit a PG Student Representative for the Imperial College Research Ethics Committee (ICREC). Imperial College Research Ethics Committee was set up in order to meet requirements from external research funders for ethical review of proposals, which are not within the remit of NHS Research Ethics Committees.

A key aim of the Committee is to enable Imperial College to maintain the highest ethical standards in all research relating to human subjects.  ICREC normally convenes 6 times during each academic year, on a bi-monthly basis. The meetings normally take place on the second Tuesday of each month at our South Kensington Campus.

If you are interested in joining the Committee, please send a short letter outlining relevant experience and suitability. (more…)

8 ways to boost your chances of getting funded

Research

In today’s ever-shifting political climate, securing funding has never been so competitive for UK-based researchers. However, as Research Strategy Manager (Department of Medicine) Dr Chrystalla Orphanides explains, taking advantage of research support services could be just what’s needed to tip the odds in your favour.

Here are her 8 essential tips for making sure your next grant application is a successful one:

1) Be organised

Be as organised as possible. If you’re going to submit an application that you’re serious about, you should be thinking at least 3-6 months in advance of the deadline about how you’re going to shape it. That means notifying all of the people that you need to notify, including your Research Support team: they can help with the parts of the application that tend to get left until the last minute. This includes things like data management plans, public engagement activities, and pathways to impact.

It’s a question of being well organised enough to access the support on offer both within your Department and across the College.

(more…)

WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training update

Advanced Leadership Course in Dubrovnik, Croatia

CroatiaIn partnership with Zagreb Institute for the Culture of Health, WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training will be delivering the Advanced Leadership course in Dubrovnik, Croatia from 5-12 August 2017.

The course will be held in InterUniversity Centre, in the centre of Dubrovnik.

It is aimed at: Policy makers, health managers, heads of clinical and administrative departments, health professionals with an interest in management, and other interested stakeholders. It is an interactive training whereby participants are inspired but also challenged and allowed space for self reflection and development.
(more…)

The UK Medical Bioinformatics partnership programme (UK Med-Bio)

What is Med-Bio?

The UK MEDical BIOinformatics partnership programme (UK Med-Bio), led by Prof Paul Elliott and funded by the MRC, brings together a group of leading multidisciplinary teams in medical, chemical, metabolic, statistical and computational sciences from across Imperial College London (lead institution) and its partners.

What resources it offers

As part of the programme, dedicated infrastructure has been purchased and set up, consisting of hardware that is already integrated in HPC’s CX1 and AX4 clusters, dedicated servers with virtual machines (VMs) and a massive amount of high-performance, secure, tiered storage directly connected to such servers. (more…)

Sharing approaches to maternity services – ICCESS update

Sharing approaches to maternity services

The ICCESS team are partway through an innovative simulation-based research project to map maternity services across North West London. The Sharing Approaches to Maternity Services project, funded by Health Education North West London, aims to identify areas of best practice, challenges in the current system, and suggest ways in which services could be improved.

The project uses Sequential Simulation (SqS) to model the maternity care pathway (see image below). The simulation compresses the nine month pathway into a 30 minute simulation that is being delivered to maternity teams at six hospitals in the NW London region. (more…)

Monthly update from the Institute of Global Health Innovation

Upcoming events

3 March 2017 18.00-20.00
Students Challenges Competition: Enter the Dragon’s Den
Venue: Imperial College Business School LG101 – LGR, South Kensington campus

Join us on Monday 13 March for our interactive Dragon’s Den style event to find the winner of our annual Student Challenges Competition. The competition provides a platform for students based in the UK to showcase their global health research idea and win up to £5000 to develop it further. Runners-up and audience choice prizes will also be awarded. (more…)

Brain scanning study in ex-smokers and quitting smokers – participants wanted

The Division of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London at the Hammersmith Hospital, London is studying how the brain and hormones control eating and addictive behaviours in the GHADD study.

Volunteers will have functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans, and an infusion of 2 different hormones to see how the brain responds.

The hormones have been safely administered in many previous studies.

There is a health screening visit, followed by 3 study visits.

To take part you must be aged 18 to 60 years old, have given up smoking cigarettes within the last year, or be just about to give up smoking cigarettes or vaping e-cigarettes.

You will NOT be able to take part if you:

  • are vegetarian, vegan, gluten or lactose intolerant
  • have a pacemaker, or some types of metal implants and clips
  • are claustrophobic, pregnant or breast feeding

You will be paid expenses including travel costs.

Please check our quick online screening tool on www.ghadd.co.uk to see if you may be eligible

If interested, please contact us at: 020 7594 6648 or ghadd@imperial.ac.uk

Approved by Local Ethics Research Committee (REC 15/LO/1041)

MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS) update

We’ve changed our name

On1 January 2017 MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS) became the new name of the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre. This is the start of a new chapter of investment in the LMS. After 20 years of outstanding science, we’re building our reputation for excellence in biomedical research. With a mission to build strong links between science and medicine, the LMS will continue to work in close partnership with Imperial College London at its Hammersmith Hospital campus.

New year’s honour list for LMS director

Amanda Fisher, Director of the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences, has been made a Dame in the New Year’s Honours List for 2017. (more…)

Monthly update from the Institute of Global Health Innovation

Calling all UK based students!

Do you have an innovative idea for global health? Enter our Student Challenges Competition to win up to £5,000 to make that idea reality. Competition closes on 20 January at 11.59pm. Find out more by visiting the website.

Upcoming events

19 January, 15.30-17.30

Global Health Forum: Seasonality and health

Venue: Anthony de Rothschild Lecture Theatre, St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington

Seasonal patterns have a significant impact on our health. Many health problems are directly related to climate change. Infectious diseases, respiratory illnesses including asthma, and allergies continue to affect the day-to-day lives of individuals. This month’s Global Health Forum highlights the importance of seasons on our health. Register here. (more…)

Imperial College Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science (ICCESS) update

Asia Haptics 2016

The SiMMS group within the Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science (ICCESS) presented a paper at Asia Haptics 2016 relating to their haptic Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) Trainer.   Asia Haptics features a new format that consists of interactive demonstrations presented over the two day duration of the conference, with a brief explanation of the work projected live on to the main viewing screen.

The SiMMS team presented a paper entitled ‘Relax and Tighten – a Haptics-based Approach to Simulate Sphincter Tone Assessment’. The haptic DRE Trainer uses metal wires, controlled by motors, to tighten and relax a silicone sphincter around the user’s finger. (more…)

Monthly update from the Institute of Global Health Innovation


Recent activities

The first Global Health Forum of the year took place on 20 October on Big Data Decision Support. The event discussed big data in medicine and healthcare and the best ways we can use what is available. Watch the full event here.

On 17 November we had our second Global Health Forum focusing on ‘Water and health’. Speakers included Dr Alexander Webb, Simon De Stercke, Dr Pauline Scheelbeek and Dr Michael Templeton covering a range in issues related to water such as salinity in drinking water and sanitation.

Latest IGHI Blog articles

Practitioner and patient-targeted interventions to address excessive antibiotic use

By Dr Olga Kostopoulou, Reader in Medical Decision Making and Professor Brendan Delaney, Chair in Medical Informatics and Decision Making at Imperial College London

Introducing ‘Exosonic’, a new device to combat pancreatic cancer

By Student Challenges Competition 2015/16 Audience Choice Award winners, Antonios Chronopoulos and Tyler Lieberthal

What is the role of social media in health policy?

By Sabine Vuik, Policy Fellow and Head of Analytics, Centre for Health Policy, Institute of Global Health Innovation

The State of Diabetes in 2016

By Professor Desmond Johnston, Vice Dean (Education) for the Faculty of Medicine atImperial College London

BIOTOPE (BIOmarkers TO diagnose PnEumonia)

By Dr John O’Donoghue, Senior Lecturer in eHealth & Deputy Director of Imperial’s Global eHealth Unit

Putting TB to the test: My journey so far

By Harriet Gliddon, winner of the IGHI Student Challenges Competition 2015-16

THET Annual Conference – Rethinking International Health Partnerships

By Hamdi Issa, PhD Candidate, Institute of Global Health Innovation

Director for the BDAU interviews the founder of the Open Data Science Conference in London

By Joshua Symons, Policy Fellow, Big Data & Analyitcal Unit, Centre for Health Policy


Write for us

We are always on the lookout for new bloggers.  If you would like to write for our blog, please get in touch with the IGHI Communications Manager, Jo, at j.seed@imperial.ac.uk

Nikita Rathod
Communications and Events Assistant
IGHI

WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training

Imperial/WHO CC Alumni reunion in Riyadh

Professor Salman Rawaf hosted a gathering for Imperial MPH and PhD alumni as well as WHO CC Fellowship Alumni currently residing in Riyadh on the 13th October at the Hilton Double Tree in Riyadh. Attending the gathering was DR. Amal Hassanein, Ms Johara Al Saud, DR Turki Bin Moammer, Dr Thamer Al-Ohali, and Dr Ahmed Al Mujil.

Visit to King Abdul Aziz University College of Medicine, Jeddah

Professor Salman Rawaf and Dr Sondus Hassounah visited the King Abdul Aziz University College of Medicine in  Jeddah on 9 October and were hosted by Professor Waleed Melaat to discuss cross university research collaboration.

Focus Group Discussions in Riyadh, Jeddah, Tabuk, Dammam, and Abha

In collaboration with the Saudi Health Council (the coordinating body for the integration between the various health authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), Professor Salman Rawaf and Dr Sondus Hassounah conducted five focus group discussions, over a period of two weeks (3 – 14 October), as part of the larger project to develop a national strategy for the development of Health Protection in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The team from Imperial College London’s WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training(Ms Christina Banks, Ms Alex Swaka, Mr Mohamed Al Saffar, Dr Sondus Hassounah, and Professor Salman Rawaf) have been involved in the project since its inception in early 2016 and have been working with their counter parts in Saudi Arabia on the multi-pronged project which includes a desk review of model country case studies, focus group discussions with relevant stakeholders, a nationally representative survey with 5,500 of the public, and in-depth interviews with policy makers.

The project is expected to continue till mid-2017 when the results will be shared and discussed with the Saudi Health Council and other partners in Saudi Arabia.

Mashael Al Sheikh: Systematic Review on Women and Cardiovascular Risks in KSA

Congratulations to Ms Mashael Al Sheikh, PhD student at the Imperial WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education & Training, for her Systematic Review on Women and Cardiovascular Risks in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is available for viewing here.

The article has significant public health implications and more results will be available shortly on the impact on culture (beliefs, behaviour etc) on health.

Health policies and family physicians alike should aim to address some of these issues outside the disease model.

Leadership in Health- National Primary Care Services, Kuwait

The WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training hosted Dr Rihab Wotayan (Managing Director for the National Primary Care Services in Kuwait) to discuss future collaboration with the centre and the department of Primary care and Public Health at Imperial. Dr Rihab and her team are interested in working with WHO CC to develop the capacity of, and train, their local health workforce, particularly in ‘Leadership in Health’. Dr Rihab is also keen to expand on the success of their recent investment in Primary Care doctors in the Kingdom and potentially send some of Kuwait’s GP trainees to take part in WHO CC 1-2 year post graduate research fellowship.

For the picture–Left to right: Professor Salman Rawaf (Director WHO CC), Dr Rihab Wotayan (Managing Director for the National Primary Care Services in Kuwait), Dr Sondus Hassounah (Teaching Fellow, WHO CC), Dr Weiam Ahmed (Honorary lecturer WHO CC).

Welcome to WHO CC Post-Graduate fellow Dr Abdulaziz Alqahtani

WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training was joined on 1st October by Dr Abdulaziz Alqahtani from Saudi Arabia. Dr Abdulaziz is a senior Registrar in Family Medicine at the Prince Sultan Military Medical City and will be following his postgraduate fellowship till end of August next year.

Ela Augustyniak
WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training

Monthly update from the Institute of Global Health Innovation

ighi
Calling all UK based students!

Do you have an innovative idea for global health? Enter our Student Challenges Competition to win up to £5,000 to make that idea reality.  Find out more by visiting the website.

Recent activities

On 14 September, the Centre for Health Policy’s Sowerby eHealth Forum hosted their third annual symposium on the benefits and barriers to sharing patient data.

On the same day, we also jointly hosted a special guest lecture by general practitioner and public health policy advocate Dr Suwit Wibulpolprasert on universal health coverage in Thailand. The event was jointly hosted by our new colleagues from IDSI who moved into our Centre for Health Policy recently.  Watch the lecture in full here.

On 20 September, we hosted our 6th Annual Lecture with Dr David Blumenthal on ‘High need, high cost patients: A universal challenge’.  Watch the lecture in full here and read the Storify coverage here.

Latest IGHI Blog articles

International Youth Day, plenty of reasons to celebrate – By Professor Beate Kampmann, Professor of Paediatrics and Director of IGHI’s Centre for International Child Health (CICH)

FEAST – five years on – By Professor Kathryn Maitland, Director of the IGHI Centre of African Research and Engagement.

A letter to…my buddy Sami*, who killed himself a year ago – By anonymous Research Fellow, Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London

Learning from Chinese health reforms – By Alexander Carter, Health Economist, Centre for Health Policy, IGHI

World First: UN Decide to Fight Antimicrobial Resistance – By guest bloggers Sarah Greaves, Katherine MacInnes and Alex Stockham, IN-PART

Ending the stigma this World Mental Health Day – By Dilkushi Poovendran, Research Assistant in Patient Experience and Patient Safety, Centre for Health Policy

The impact of Neglected Tropical Diseases on Universal Eye Health – By Professor Alan Fenwick of Imperial’s Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI)

Write for us

We are always on the lookout for new bloggers.  If you would like to write for our blog, please get in touch with the IGHI Communications Manager, Jo, at j.seed@imperial.ac.uk

Jo Seed
Communications Manage
Institute of Global Health Innovation

Partnership for Child Development update

Partnership for Child Development’s Dr Elisabetta Aurino presented the initial findings of a three-year impact evaluation of Home Grown School Feeding on communities in Ghana as part of the School Health and Nutrition webinar series.

Image courtesy of the Ghana School Feeding programme
Image courtesy of the Ghana School Feeding programme

Home Grown School Feeding programmes are government-led programmes which provide free school meals using food purchased from local smallholder farmers. PCD’s impact evaluation looked into the impact that these programmes have on the health and education of the school children who eat them and on the incomes of the farmers that supply them.  Initial findings have shown that schools that provided school feeding experienced higher enrolment and reduced absenteeism rates and that schools girls in particular benefited from HGSF with improvements observed in literacy and cognition. Analysis of farmers data shows that 1 in 3 households in communities with HGSF programmes increased the value of their agricultural sales. A complete analysis of this data will be completed in the coming months.

The SHN webinar is a monthly webinar supported by Imperial College London, Save the Children, UNESCO, UNICEF, World Bank, GIZ and other leading organisations within the School Health and Nutrition field. To sign up to this webinar visit the webinar home at www.schoolsandhealth.org/Pages/SHN-Webinar-Series.aspx

Francis Peel
Senior Communications Manager
Partnership for Child Development

Volunteers of WEST AFRICAN Descent needed for 3D heart scan

Genetic studies of the heart and circulation (Ethics reference number 09/H0707/69).

african-heartThe Robert Steiner MRI unit, within the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, is looking for healthy volunteers from west African descent aged 18-80 with no heart-related health problems. The study aims to develop an atlas of the human heart to help scientists to determine the effect of different DNA and genes on heart shape and function.

The study will involve a single appointment at Hammersmith Hospital, and volunteers are compensated for their time and will receive a free CD of their scan.

Staff who wish to participate should email heart@imperial.nhs.uk
For more information visit the study website http://digital-heart.org/

NHLI creates videos for British Lung Foundation #BreatheEasy campaign

NHLI videos

As part of the British Lung Foundation’s campaign to raise awareness of what breathlessness may mean for your wider health, we highlighted the work of Dr Jennifer Quint and her team here at NHLI. We supported the #BreatheEasy campaign by doing a series of short videos where Jenni and her PhD student, Ann Morgan, talk about their BLF funded research.

The series of videos we created on this research is from the Respiratory Epidemiology group, and is using anonymised patient records to look at respiratory disease. By using simple questions on what the research was about, why it is important and its potential impact we hoped to make the research accessible to the wider public. We found the greatest engagement on twitter was with the simplest questions – “What is COPD?” was only beaten into second place by the promoted tweet pinned at the top of our homepage “Can you tell us what your research is about?”.

Watch the videos on YouTube

Helen Johnson
Communications and Website Officer
NHLI

JRO Research Support Roadshows

In June, the Joint Research Office and its partner teams held Research Support Roadshows at Hammersmith, St Mary’s and South Kensington campuses to outline the range of support services available to staff in the Faculty of Medicine. The sessions were well attended and well received, generating a range of questions and interesting discussions on a number of issues.

The various presentations can be accessed from the JRO website, covering the funding mechanisms and administrative procedures which underpin research grant applications and research-related contracts, including the five-day-submission-rule, online systems, College preferred terms, research governance, and patient and public involvement:

  • JRO Grants (pre-award / post-award / EC)
  • JRO Contracts
  • Joint Research Compliance Office (JRCO)
  • Patient and Public Involvement (PPI)
  • Biomedical Research Centre (BRC)
  • ICHT Divisional Research Management

Damian Cerase
Communications & Projects Coordinator
Joint Research Office

Eurohaptics 2016

160629_bello_prostate_046

Imperial College London was the host of Eurohaptics 2016, the main international European conference for researchers in haptics and touch-enabled computer applications. The conference was held at South Kensington over 4-7 July 2016 and was organised by Imperial College London in partnership with University College London, University of Reading, University of Bristol and University of Birmingham.

Eurohaptics 2016 was a great opportunity for researchers – drawn from disciplines such as neuroscience, psychology and robotics – to meet and present their work with the goal of improving understanding of the sense of touch from a physiological and perceptual perspective, devising new haptic devices and investigating better ways of controlling and interacting with them.

Haptics is a growing field, with awareness amongst the wider public also on the rise thanks to the increasing use of haptic technology in mobile devices. Eurohaptics 2016 included public-focused evening events at the Royal Society and Royal Institution.

Imperial College’s Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science (ICCESS) played a leading role in the conference, with Centre Director Dr Fernando Bello as both Programme co-Chair and local co-Chair, and Dr Alejandro Granados-Martinez showcasing the haptic rectal examination trainer he has developed. His innovative device attracted a great deal of media coverage over the conference period, with articles in the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Vice Magazine, to name a few.

Keynote speakers at Eurohaptics 2016 included Professor Stephen Brewster (University of Glasgow), Dr Henrik Jörntell (Lund University, Sweden) and Professor Blake Hannaford (University of Washington, USA), who acknowledged challenges in the design of haptic devices and how we could improve this by studying brain circuitry during tactile skin sensing and by enhancing the way we interact with them.

Eurohaptics 2016 was attended by nearly 400 delegates from 26 countries and was therefore the largest event in the history of the conference.

Read about the rectal examination trainer on the Daily Telegraph website.

Listen to Guardian Science Weekly podcast on haptics featuring Dr Fernando Bello.

Duncan Boak
Centre Manager
Imperial College Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science

Eurohaptics 2016

Haptic technology is a term that you might not be familiar with, although you probably make use of it on a daily basis. Haptics is the science of using the sense of touch to interact with computer applications, whether this is swiping the screen on your smartphone or using a sophisticated haptic simulator to practice a complex medical procedure.

ICCESS prototype haptic simulator for rectal examinations
ICCESS prototype haptic simulator for rectal examinations

Imperial College London is hosting Eurohaptics 2016, a major international conference on haptic technologies, on 4– 7 July. The conference is a partnership between a number of academic institutions and the Eurohaptics Society.

The Simulation and Modelling in Medicine and Surgery (SiMMS) research group, part of the Imperial College Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science (ICCESS), are participating in Eurohaptics 2016 and helping with its local organisation. Dr Fernando Bello, who leads the SiMMS group and is a joint Director of ICCESS, is Programme Co-chair and Local Co-chair.

One strand of ICCESS’ work is the research and development of pioneering haptic devices for clinical simulations. See https://www.imperial.ac.uk/simms/ for further information.

ICCESS researchers work closely with Eurohaptics sponsor, Generic Robotics (www.genericrobotics.com). The Centre’s collaboration with Generic Robotics is taking research developed at ICCESS through to commercialisation. Projects include a haptically enabled simulator for training surgeons to perform advanced endoscopic surgical procedures and a system for training clinicians to perform unsighted internal examinations.

In addition to showcasing the latest advances in haptics and bringing together world-renowned experts, Eurohaptics includes opportunities for the general public to learn and engage with this emergent technology through events at the Royal Institution and Royal Society.

The Ri Lates event ‘Touch and Go’ takes place on Friday 8 July. Visit the link below for more information and to book tickets.

http://www.rigb.org/whats-on/events-2016/july/lates-touch-and-go

Duncan Boak
Centre Manager
Department of Surgery and Cancer

Institute of Global Health Innovation update

News

IGHI hosted a forum to discuss and disseminate research into diabetes and infection.
http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/centres/globalhealth/newssummary/news_13-6-2016-10-22-2 

Leaving the EU poses ‘critical threat’ to NHS.
http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_7-6-2016-14-23-2

New Patient Safety programme launching for busy healthcare professionals.
http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/centres/globalhealth/newssummary/news_25-4-2016-17-13-20

IGHI launch new Centre to bring together health researchers in Africa .
http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/centres/globalhealth/newssummary/news_25-5-2016-10-32-24
  (more…)

WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training update

WHO EURO ‘Consultation of the European Framework for Action on Integrated Health Services Delivery’

 02-04 May 2016 Copenhagen, Denmark

Between the 2 and 4 May, Professor Salman Rawaf, Ms Federica Amati and Dr Sondus Hassounah participated in WHO Regional Office for Europe’s (WHO EURO) ‘Consultation of the European Framework for Action on Integrated Health Services Delivery’ — a high level international meeting and workshop aiming to strengthen people-centred health systems, as set out in Health 2020, that strives to accelerate maximum health gains for the population, reduce health inequalities, guarantee financial protection and ensure an efficient use of societal resources, including through intersectoral actions consistent with whole-of-society and whole-of-government approaches. (more…)

Innovative Training Post at The King’s Fund: Bringing together physical and mental health – A new frontier for integrated care

Preety Das
Preety Das – Specialist Trainee in General Practice

Preety Das is a Specialist Trainee in General Practice in the
Department of Primary Care & Public Health. She joined the King’s Fund as part of an innovative training post at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

Here she discusses the King’s Fund report she coauthored – Bringing together physical and mental health.


Integrated care initiatives in England and elsewhere have paid insufficient attention to the relationship between physical and mental health. Our report draws on a review of published research evidence, qualitative interviews and focus groups with service users and carers, and case studies of 10 services in England. We conclude by arguing that overcoming the longstanding barriers to integration of mental and physical health should be a central component of efforts to develop new models of care that bring together resources from across local health systems.

The case for seeking to support physical and mental health in a more integrated way is compelling, and is based on four related challenges: 1) high rates of mental health conditions among people with long-term physical health problems, 2) poor management of ‘medically unexplained symptoms’, which lack an identifiable organic cause, 3) reduced life expectancy among people with the most severe forms of mental illness, largely attributable to poor physical health and 4) limited support for the wider psychological aspects of physical health and illness. Collectively, these issues increase the cost of providing services, perpetuate inequalities in health outcomes, and mean that care is less effective than it could be. The first two issues alone cost the NHS in England more than £11 billion annually.

Examples of innovative service models described in the report demonstrate that there are opportunities to redesign care in ways that could improve outcomes and may also be highly cost effective. These include various forms of enhanced support in primary care, integrated community or neighbourhood teams, comprehensive liaison mental health services, physical health liaison within mental health services, and integrated perinatal mental health care.

All health and care professionals have a part to play in delivering closer integration. Our research with service users and carers highlights the importance of professionals being willing and able to take a ‘whole person’ perspective, and having the necessary skills to do so. Integrated service models can support this by facilitating skills transfer and shifting notions of who is responsible for what. Equally, a great deal of improvement is possible within existing service structures. New approaches to training and development are needed to create a workforce able to support integration of mental and physical health. This has significant implications for professional education; all educational curricula need to have a sufficient common foundation in both physical and mental health.

My involvement in this project provided a unique opportunity to relate everyday clinical practice to the range of barriers that have prevented wider adoption of integrated approaches. These include: separate budgets and payment systems for physical and mental health; the challenge of measuring outcomes and demonstrating value; and cultural barriers between organisations or groups of professionals. The report describes several enabling factors and practical lessons, including the value of having a board-level champion for physical health in mental health trusts, and vice versa. New payment systems and contracting approaches offer commissioners various options for overcoming some of the financial barriers.

In recent years there has been a welcome focus in national policy on achieving ‘parity of esteem’ for mental health. Colloquially, this phrase has often been interpreted to mean that mental health services should be ‘as good as’ services for physical health. We argue that there is a greater prize beyond this, in which mental health care is not only ‘as good as’ but is delivered ‘as part of ’ an integrated approach to health.

Preety Das
Specialist Trainee in General Practice
Department of Primary Care & Public Health