UNE a building block of innovative regional health alliance

National recognition has been granted to a regional health alliance, supported by the University of New England (UNE), that covers six per cent of Australia’s population with programs designed to more effectively translate research into improved health outcomes.

Recognition by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of the Centre for Innovation in Regional Health (CIRH) confirms the Centre’s national status as a healthcare research and innovation hub that aligns clinicians and health and medical researchers across the Hunter New England, Central Coast and Mid-North Coast districts of NSW.

Research hub members include three neighbouring Local Health Districts, the Universities of New England and Newcastle, Hunter Medical Research Institute, Calvary Mater Newcastle hospital and the Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network.

“We thank the NHMRC for recognising our strength in innovative research and acknowledging the unique challenges that face health service providers and researchers in regional, rural and remote Australia,” said UNE Vice-Chancellor, Professor Annabelle Duncan.

“Being an NHMRC Centre for Innovation in Regional Health will help us improve health care equity in regional health in a way that’s unprecedented in this country. We are poised to truly integrate biomedical research, population health prevention strategies and healthcare provision, with a flow-on to all Australians.”

The Centre will capitalise on a cross-disciplinary management structure developed since the research hub was initially formed in 2014. It aims to deliver genuine “silo-breaking” programs including those for obesity prevention, enhanced diabetes management and acute stroke telemedicine.

The prestigious award by the NHMRC, announced today, recognises the strength of the research alliance and positions the Centre to capture clinical innovation and research for the benefit of rural and regional communities.

The Centre’s footprint across NSW comprises six per cent of the Australian population and 10 per cent of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

The research hub has previously received national and international recognition for achievements in integrated care and population health. “We are now poised to accelerate and expand our delivery of innovative, regional models of healthcare – supported by a highly engaged senior health service management, and driven by patient and clinician need,” said the partner organisations. “We will support and facilitate measurable improvements in the healthcare systems and apply academic rigour to both prevent disease and to improve the patient journey from diagnosis to treatment to recovery.”

Centre for Innovation in Regional Health (CIRH) website