Information and Communications technology features in five of the seven partnerships which are receiving a share of the £64m research grant for studies looking at major conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

The new National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaborations for Health Research and Care sites were announced by health minister, Dawn Primarolo, combining health settings with academic institutions to conduct research into long term conditions.

In all but two of these sites, IT is featured in the areas of activity listed for their research work, which will begin on 1 October, which will include the trialling and evaluation of new initiatives.

The Birmingham and Black County Collaboration, a partnership between University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Birmingham says it will look at improving patient safety by studying an evolving IT system.

Similarly, the Leeds York Bradford Research Alliance, a partnership between Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Leeds and University of York, say it intends to improve maternity and child health and well-being through the development and implementation of research-calibre information systems.

Greater Manchester Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) – a collaboration between the University of Manchester and 19 NHS Trusts across Greater Manchester – will receive £20m over five years to fund research into healthcare for people with cardiovascular conditions and ensure that knowledge gained from this research is used to improve health services across Greater Manchester.

As part of this, it will be looking into new information systems to improve healthcare monitoring and planning for people with long-term conditions.

CLAHRC director, Professor Bonnie Sibbald, said: “The CLAHRC will help us to ensure that knowledge gained from this research is effectively translated into improved health services for the people of Greater Manchester.”

Dr Mike Burrows, Chief Executive of Salford PCT, added: “We will be able to harness the knowledge and skills of leading researchers in the University of Manchester to improve our services for people with cardiovascular conditions, including stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease.”

In North West London, a collaboration between Chelsea and Westminster hospital and Imperial College London, who will work with NHS Direct. The joint research project will explore the potential benefits of telephone follow-up in relation to patient drugs for patients discharged from hospital.

Professor Derek Bell, professor of acute medicine at Imperial College London and consultant physician at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Our research programme’s methodology and staff training will support the rapid introduction of new, effective treatments for patients in North West London."

In Sheffield, the South Yorkshire Applied Research and Care Consortium, will study technologies for long term conditions, specifically looking at their fitness for purpose, evidence and potential for the future.

Primarolo said: "This new funding will help to improve health outcomes for patients across England, with particular emphasis on conditions that cause chronic distress to patients and are a significant issue for the NHS to manage."

Professor Sally Davies, director general of research and development at the Department of Health, added: "The NIHR Collaborations for Health Research and Care represent an exciting and innovative partnership between universities and the NHS. They will undertake high quality applied health research and develop new ways of translating research findings into improved outcomes for patients.

“They will be conducting this work at the front line of the NHS so that the benefits and findings from research can be swiftly incorporated into routine clinical practice."