University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) has been announced as the new strategic partner of Health Data Research UK (HDR UK)’s Pioneer programme.

Pioneer, whose lead organisation is University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB), is an ethically-approved research partnership tasked with collecting and curating patient data from acute care settings, to support research. The anonymised dataset gives valuable insights that enable healthcare organisations to develop, test and deliver advances in acute clinical care.

The addition of University College London Hospitals will mean Pioneer is able to further scale its patient dataset and accelerate innovation with acute care. Through new insights being gathered, better care for patients will be supported.

Professor Elizabeth Sapey, director of HDRUK Pioneer, said: “This exciting partnership brings together the significant expertise of UCLH and UHB. Unlocking this combined health data and providing clear public oversight of how this data is used will lead to real patient benefits.”

One project from Pioneer from the two trusts is supporting clinicians to diagnose and assess the severity of Covid-19. It uses AI to support clinicians to interpret chest radiographs to help diagnosis and predict likely outcomes.

In another project from within the partnership, researchers are gaining insight from data on the microbial causes of infection, with the aim of improving antibiotic stewardship and to reduce antibiotic resistance.

A third project will use health data from the earliest stages of an unplanned or emergency admission across the two trusts to develop new tools to spot those people at risk of deterioration.

HDR UK Pioneer is linked to the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centres (BRC) at both University Hospitals Birmingham and University College London Hospitals. By linking infrastructure and capabilities across the partnership, it is able to progress innovation within acute care.

Professor Bryan Williams, University College London Hospitals director of research, added: “This partnership with our colleagues in Birmingham will transform our ability to gain rapid and novel insights, to further improve care and patient outcomes in acute medical settings across the NHS. It is also important that patients and the public are at the centre of this partnership, guiding our safe use of data, through our Data Trust Committee.”

In the latter of last year Health Research Data UK launched a £2m fund for Covid research, working in partnership with The Alan Turing Institute and the Office of National Statistics to form part of the National Core Studies (NCS) Data and Connectivity programme.