ENABLE UK: ENABling Local authority Evidence-based decision-making across the UK.

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Population Health Sciences Institute


UK ENABLE Consortium vision, aims and objectives:
Local government is uniquely placed to shape the environmental and social factors which fundamentally influence non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and thus our health and wellbeing. Our vision is for local government to consider the health of local populations in all policy and practice decisions and to have the best possible scientific evidence to support those decisions. We will test our vision by working with five different local authority (LA) based public health systems across the UK, learning what works best, and what can be useful for all LAs across the UK.
Our consortium brings together academics, practitioners, policy makers and other stakeholders from across the UK in five centres in NE and SW England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales; each with different models of public health delivery.
We will develop and test a process that embeds research capacity and expertise in LAs. Working closely with our partners in each LA, we will identify a current priority for improving the health and wellbeing and reducing inequalities of people living in that area. By building relationships between academics, practitioners and policy makers we will enable the LA to access and create new evidence that is relevant for decision making about the priority issue.
Scientific rationale for the proposed research:
Evidence-informed policy-making aims to improve decision making by using the best available research. Organisational and cultural barriers within the current system have made this approach difficult to achieve. New methods and approaches are needed which bring together researchers, practitioners and policy makers in local government, where evidence is only one contributing factor to decision-making. Embedded researchers and knowledge brokers can help to ensure evidence is used by building understanding of the context, accessing existing, and co-producing new evidence.
Intervention(s) of interest and the potential applications and anticipated benefits of the work:
By the end of the project we will:
1. Increase research capacity and 'no how' in each LA, focusing on a local NCD priority issue, enabling access to evidence to inform local decision-making. We will develop and share learning which is generalisable across the UK
2. Build and support new partnerships for active and effective research use with practitioners, policy makers, and academia
3. Build knowledge and skills in local government and universities to maximise use of different kinds of evidence for policy, practice and public decision-making
4. Co-create evidence that addresses local government priorities, with a focus on prevention, by working across sectors and disciplines, utilising novel methodological approaches, including complex systems models
5. Develop a range of health and system interventions that have been co-produced and tested across LA areas
6. Create sustained change in research culture in LAs and academia so that evidence use is embedded across local government
7. Evaluate this new approach and methods to see if we made a difference to the health of people living in each area, related to their priority topic, and whether/how this approach could be rolled out across the UK

We anticipate that this work will improve population health and wellbeing and increase the use of scientific research. It aims to improve quality, efficiency and effectiveness of public health interventions and services, reduce waste, and improve staff morale and retention.
Consortium management:
Our across-UK academic leadership brings together experience of applied translational research in prevention from four of the UKCRC funded Centres of Excellence in Public Health. Senior leaders in local government public health, bring practical experience of putting evidence into action. Other members have expertise in systems thinking, embedded research, knowledge brokerage and other skills essential to our success.

Technical Summary

For local government (LG) to consider the health of the local population, primary prevention of non-communicable disease (NCDs) and health inequalities, in all policies; embed research-informed evidence in decision-making; and generate research evidence from their activities. We will develop and test a system intervention that embeds a research culture and capacity in LG which is generalisable across the UK.
Scientific rationale
LG is uniquely placed to address upstream determinants of NCDs and reduce inequalities. Cost-effective LG action needs to be evidence-informed, but there are structural and cultural barriers within and across policy and academic systems and a paucity of evidence on how best to address these.
Interventions and methods
1 System mapping to identify topics for NCD prevention in 5 UK demonstrator LAs
2 Develop responsive transdisciplinary research infrastructure in each locale comprising knowledge exchange, research, and public health (PH) capacity
3 Build partnerships between LG and academia and capacity/skills to maximise use of evidence
4 Co-create evidence to inform an NCD intervention in each locale utilising system models
5 Evaluate the system change intervention across LAs, its generalisability and impact, utilising social network and contribution analyses
6 Scale and spread learning in collaboration with existing infrastructures
Engagement and influence:We have established strong partnerships with PH policy-makers and practitioners across the UK to test our approach. Our co-production approach to embedding a research culture will provide solutions to challenges faced by LG.
Potential applications and benefits
The ENABLE UK consortium will deliver evidence-informed 'best practice' models for the use of evidence to reduce NCDs and health inequalities. This will help shape PH infrastructure effectively to maximise population-level health improvement, through system-wide changes, transferable across LG throughout the UK.

This grant is funded by the UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP) which is administered by the Medical Research Council on behalf of the UKPRP's 12 funding partners: British Heart Foundation; Cancer Research UK; Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates; Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; Economic and Social Research Council; Health and Social Care Research and Development Division, Welsh Government; Health and Social Care Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland; Medical Research Council; Natural Environment Research Council; National Institute for Health Research; The Health Foundation; The Wellcome Trust.