DREAM Improves Health Of Local Communities

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Health chiefs in Manchester are launching a new program that aims to ensure local people reap the benefits of cutting edge research and training taking place in the city.

DREAM, which stands for Developing Research and Education to Advance Medicine, is being set up by NHS Manchester to give research and teaching a much greater role in improving the health of local communities.

It coincides with the publication of a new book, The Quest for Public Health in Manchester, which looks at the leadership for health in the city especially since World War II.

The work was commissioned by NHS Manchester to help inform the development of leadership for better public health in the future.

It surveys local innovations from the Industrial Revolution to the present day, highlighting the fact Manchester has been at the cutting edge of research and innovation for centuries. In the 1830s it was the first city in the world to establish a Statistical Society to collect data on the poor, and in the 1890s it led on the use of microbiology and on techniques for sewage treatment. Recent highlights include the Clean Air campaigns after the Second World War and the work on AIDS and mental health pioneered in North Manchester in the 1980s.

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Professor John Pickstone, who co-wrote the book with Dr Emma Jones, said: “The analysis shows that there is much to celebrate in Manchester and equally there is much food for thought. We hope that we learn from the past to show how research can improve Manchester people’s health in the modern day.”

And this is exactly what Professor Rajan Madhok, Medical Director at NHS Manchester and lead for the DREAM programme, wants to see happen in the city. He said “There is no denying that good research saves lives, especially if we implement it quickly. For example, the benefits of clot busting drugs for heart attacks were known for over 20 years before patients started receiving the treatment routinely and without research we wouldn’t know that putting a baby on their back when we lay them down to sleep could save their life. We want to learn from the past and ensure that we have more, and better, research that meets the needs of the people of the city.”

The Wanless Report into the funding for the NHS clearly outlined the need to have better informed and engaged public, people who can exercise healthier choices and adopt health promoting behaviours. And to do so it is important to ensure that clinical professionals are better educated and receive ongoing professional development first.

Professor Madhok said “However, it is not just a question of reforming the curriculum, we need to consider the settings in which students train as this reinforces the qualities required of the doctors and nurses in the 21st century. For example, we need to have more placements in primary care and community services where the vast majority of healthcare is provided now and will be even more so in the future.

“DREAM will help academic and service leaders to find new ways of working together so that world class research and training based here in Manchester support the NHS and other agencies in delivering truly world class healthcare.“

Manchester already hosts a considerable amount of healthcare research including expertise in acute NHS care and community health services, cancer, bioinformatics and mental health.

With a number of new research initiatives now beginning, it is hoped that DREAM will harness the full potential of new learning and innovations for improving health in the city.

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