The recent Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) Midlands Annual Conference, held in Nottingham, was a resounding success. With 150 delegates from the Midlands and beyond, including Taiwan and Australia, the event highlighted the region’s crucial role in advancing health data research. The conference featured a packed agenda, insightful talks, and dynamic discussions, showcasing the Midlands’ contributions to improving healthcare through data.

Keynote Speakers and a Packed Agenda

The conference opened with a keynote address by Anthony May OBE DL, Chief Executive Officer at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, who outlined the local health system’s priorities and the essential role of data in enhancing patient care.  His talk was followed by Professor Andrew Morris, Director of HDR UK, who summarised the national mission and emphasised the Midlands’ importance.

“There is outstanding leadership, innovation and creativity in health data research in the Midlands.” Prof. Morris said, ” It’s inspiring to see such a diverse and talented team committed to using data to address local challenges, to improve lives and to transform our NHS.”

Next Hilary Fanning MBE, Senior Responsible Officer for the Data for R&D Programme at NHS England, provided insights into the NHS England Data for R&D Programme, which leverages Secure Data Environments (SDEs) to ensure safe and efficient use of health data for research, accelerating medical discoveries and improving patient outcomes.

Understanding our greatest challenges and opportunities

Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) is such a crucial component of health data research, and this was emphasised by Firoza Davies, a Patient Representative from the East Midlands. Firoza shared her journey through the health system and highlighted the importance of using data to improve NHS services for patients and the public.

Firoza expressed her delight in contributing to this fantastic event. She said “I am grateful for the opportunity to share my personal experiences and talk about the importance of using data for the benefit of patients and the general public”.

Following Firoza’s talk, Prof Andrew Morris chaired our first discussion panel which further explored the challenges and subsequent opportunities for transformation across the region.  This interactive panel discussion engaging with the audience included Colin Monckton, Director of Performance and Information at Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust, Chris Dyke, Head of Connectivity at Medilink Midlands, Suzanne Horobin, Head of Innovation Pipeline Development, Health Innovation East Midlands and Connie Yang, Deputy CEO of National Biobank Consortium of Taiwan

Showcasing Regional Innovation

Presentations from the Birmingham, Nottingham, and Leicester National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centres (NIHR BRCs) showcased innovative research across the three centres.  Talks were heard from Dr Nicola Adderley, Dr Phil Quinlan, and Dr Robert Free. These were followed by insights from Professor Simon Ball and Mr Andrew Haw from the East and West Midlands SDEs, highlighting the vital role secure data handling will play in advancing healthcare research in the future.

With the challenges firmly outlined, a thought-provoking discussion chaired by Professor Laila Tata from the University of Nottingham explored how we join the dots with different parts of the regional infrastructure and work together to maximise opportunities for the Midlands.

Afternoon Session: Community and Data Integration

The afternoon session began with Councillor Liaqat Ali, Sheriff of Nottingham, who expressed his pride in Nottingham hosting such a significant event. Dr Amanda Sullivan, Chief Executive of NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care Board, discussed how the local integrated care board (ICB) uses data in real time to understand and address priorities and problems across society.

“HDR UK Midlands is imperative to our local health and care system,” said Amanda “I am personally very passionate about using data to improve care.  To put it simply, this is essential for improving the health and wellbeing of our population.”

Prof Tanya Pankhurst, Director of Digital Healthcare at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, and Dr Jeremy Lewis, Chief Clinical Information Officer at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, then clearly demonstrated how data is being used on the front line to improve clinical care quality and safety.

Forward-Looking Discussions and Capacity Building

A panel discussion that explored ‘wouldn’t it be great if…..”, chaired by Kevin Dunn, HDR UK Programme Manager, included speakers Amanda Sullivan, Tanya Pankhurst and Jeremy Lewis, as well as Lisa Faria, Director of Healthcare Data Research at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, and Katy Hardwick, Chief Intelligence & Analytics Officer at NHS Lincolnshire ICB. They explored opportunities for future collaboration, engaging in a lively Q&A session with the audience.

Dr Fiona Pearce, Academic Rheumatologist and Co-Director of HDR UK Midlands at the University of Nottingham, remarked, “A lot of effort and hard work went into planning and shaping the conference programme. I am personally honoured and delighted to host this wonderful and important event here in the City of Nottingham.”

The final session, focused on learning and capacity building, was chaired by Professor Eiman Kanjo from Nottingham Trent University. Talks from Rosie Wakeham, Head of Training at HDR UK, Claire Lawson, Associate Professor at the University of Leicester, and Andrew Barraclough, Head of Quality, Safety, and Improvement Analysis at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, discussed enhancing skills and knowledge among clinical and data science staff across the region.  The panel discussion that followed was Chaired by Dr Grazziela Figueredo, Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham, who facilitated a discussion looking at how we enhance our learning offering across the Midlands to improve the knowledge, skills and capabilities of our regional workforce. This enabled the audience to share their ideas and views of how training could be delivered in the future.

Partnerships and Exhibitors

The conference was delivered in partnership with Health Data Research UK, Health Innovation East Midlands, Midlands Health Alliance, and Midlands Innovation Health.

Alex Archibald, Project Manager at Midlands Innovation Health, expressed her delight, stating, “Midlands Innovation Health was thrilled to partner with this strategically important event for our region. Health Data Research is critical for our local economy to showcase the incredible strengths, talent and potential within the Midlands.”

Emma Redman, Research Collaborations and Partnerships Lead at NIHR Midlands Health Alliance shared her enthusiasm, saying, “The HDR UK Midlands Conference has highlighted the potential and impact of digital and data solutions for research and NHS healthcare development, our regional innovation and leadership in this area.”

Glen Howard, Head of Analytics & Evaluation at Health Innovation East Midlands, added, “It has been brilliant for Health Innovation East Midlands to partner with HDR UK Midlands and others to shine a light on the complex topic of health data and to work together as a region for the benefit of all.”

Exhibitors included Medilink Midlands, Health Innovation East Midlands, Health Innovation West Midlands, NIHR Nottingham BRC, NIHR Incubator for AI and Digital Healthcare, PIONEER (Health Data Research Hub) and the East and West Midlands SDEs.

Panellist Chris Dyke expressed his delight with the event: “It was great to be part of this important regional event. Medilink Midlands is keen to continue working with HDR UK Midlands to explore how our regional SMEs and the innovative companies of the Midlands can get involved and help to transform our NHS through dynamic, innovative and creative ways of utilising and analysing digital data from text to images that HDR UK and SDE will be able to provide.”

HDR UK Midlands: A Crucial Network

HDR UK Midlands is a vital network bringing together NHS, academic, local government, and industry partners to explore how health data can improve patient care and population health. The regional network is crucial to the UK life sciences industry and the regional economy, in which the life sciences sector contribute £20.5 billion to the regional economy every year.

The HDR UK Midlands Team, in partnership with University of Nottingham and BC Platforms were delighted to host our VIP delegates from Taiwan, who were touring the UK to learn about genomic medicine and trusted research environments (TREs).

Dr. Phil Quinlan, Director of Health Informatics at the University of Nottingham, emphasised the significance of HDR UK Midlands, saying, “It’s great to have HDR UK Midlands here to support us and bring the wider regional ecosystem together. This conference is vital for the people and the city of Nottingham, helping us to harness data for better healthcare outcomes.”

This was HDR UK Midlands’ largest event to date, and planning for next year’s conference is already underway, promising even greater advancements in health data research.

Professor Alastair Denniston, Academic Ophthalmologist and Co-Director of HDR UK Midlands, celebrated the event, saying, “This was our biggest and most successful event to date. I want to express my personal appreciation to Kevin Dunn and the team for organising such a brilliant event that allowed our regional teams to come together to share ideas and form new important collaborations.”

Our HDR UK Midlands Annual Conference 2024 was a resounding success, showcasing the region’s exceptional capabilities and commitment to using data to transform healthcare.

HDR UK Midlands Annual Conference 2024 delivered in partnership with:

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