University of Sheffield

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has today (1 August 2023) awarded over £100 million to 20 new Policy Research Units (PRUs) across England, including two at the University of Sheffield.

The funding will support research programmes that will tackle important long-standing and emerging health and social care issues, and ensure policy makers have the best possible information and evidence available when making decisions about health and social care services.

A £5.5 million funding award from the NIHR will support the creation of a PRU investigating addictions, a collaboration between the University of Sheffield, King’s College London and the University of Glasgow.

Professor John Holmes from the University of Sheffield and Co-Director of the NIHR Policy Research Unit for Addictions said: “The new Addictions Policy Research Unit will expand the University of Sheffield’s influential work on alcohol policy to include tobacco, gambling and illicit drugs policy – and the links between these policy areas. We have been developing this wider research programme over recent years and are pleased to have the opportunity to do so. We will work closely with the Government to identify research priorities and support their decision-making.”

A further £5.5 million will continue to support the Economic Methods of Evaluation in Health & Care Intervention PRU (EEPRU), which the University of Sheffield currently collaborates on with the University of York.

About Policy Research Units

The PRUs’ main aim is to support policy makers in the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), and their arm’s length bodies including NHS England and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to respond to policy research needs and develop research programmes that provide evidence for current and emerging research priorities.

The PRU system has been running successfully since the 1970s, offering the DHSC direct access to top academics in various fields. Over the past 5 years, the 15 current PRUs have provided evidence for a variety of different policy priority areas. They have provided both a long-term resource for policy research and a rapid response service to provide evidence for emerging policy needs.

Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Scientific Advisor, DHSC Chief Executive of NIHR, said: “In the NIHR, we have a range of ways to make sure that health and care research benefits patients and the public. The NIHR’s new Policy Research Units are designed to provide strong evaluation of policy. This helps government and related organisations to be able to act on the latest evidence when making decisions about health and social care that could impact us all.”

Find out more about the NIHR’s announcement today here.