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CRN West Midlands Entry Plan


West Midlands Research: A refreshed way of working

We want the West Midlands to be the best possible place to live, work and receive healthcare and social care, where research and innovation thrive.

Entry Plan 2021 and beyond

There are many organisations across our region that work in the research arena; we can all work in isolation (silos) and achieve something, but think about what we could achieve by all working more collaboratively.

Please join in and open your hearts and minds to working together, with shared goals, mutual respect and the same passion for helping people. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, our environment rapidly changed and new ways of working had to be developed quickly. It has afforded us the opportunity to take a step back, review what has and has not worked well, renew and refresh.

We are very clear we want to look forward, and take an approach of ‘no going back’. We would now like to instigate the development of a co-produced research entry plan for the region.


To achieve the vision, four main themes were identified:

Meeting the health and care needs of participants and the population - this is our customer and should always be the driver for what we do.

Research ecosystem - this is our research processes, funded staff and collaborators effectively working together to advance what and how research is delivered.

Maximising data and digital - this is transforming how we use data sets and digital advancements to inform our practice.

Innovation - this is supporting new and unique concepts that support a sustainable research ecosystem.

In the various engagement activities (outlined below) we have collectively identified areas of work, with some of these spanning more than one theme. The list of prioritised projects are listed below. These may change as our needs and/or environment changes, or if new ideas come to the surface, however we now want to start the work and will be flexible as these progress. Below is a summary of the proposed milestones for progressing the entry plan.

Timelines - Entry Plan: The next stage (September 2021 to March 2022)

Project teams to continue to implement the Entry Plan projects with the support and guidance of the Entry Plan Programme Board.

Programme Board to continually evaluate whether the focus of the Entry Plan reflects the needs of the local population.

Programme Board to meet monthly to discuss two projects and offer their support / guidance / recommendations.

Create an infographic to communicate the developments of the Entry Plan projects and share widely on a regular basis.

Track and monitor the progress of the Entry Plan projects through the programme's project management tool.

Implement the communications plan to ensure all stakeholders are appropriately informed of Entry Plan developments.

Prioritised Projects

1.0 Develop specific research interest group(s) to increase the amount of research addressing WM health and care priority areas

Map out data sources and develop a process for using this data, and utilising work already undertaken in this area.

Set up research interest groups in health need areas including the NHS, social care, academics and people with lived experience.

Identify key funding calls and facilitate connecting people together/hold events to aide high quality grant applications.

2.0 Broader community engagement and education in research

Engage WM researchers and sponsors in designing their research for inclusivity.

Establish the current status of WM studies being designed for inclusivity.

Work with RDS WM to monitor progress of their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion dashboard to see if the Study Support Service could use this in the future.

Ensure the right people have access to/training in/expertise on involving underserved communities for when discussing with researchers.
Identify work underway on this topic and learn from it.

Ensure all members of society are represented in PPIE; link in better with existing research champions.

Improving the region's level of engagement of people from underserved communities and those experiencing poverty and other socio-economic disadvantages, and identifying their research priorities and educating them about research.

Ensuring all staff are culturally competent.

Engage Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) in research, help educate about research and identify a Research Lead in each ICS.

3.0 Improve integration of research at a primary care level

Supporting the development of an NHS-Led Academic Unit of General Practice, Population and Public Health.

Working with Primary/Integrated Care to develop and deliver the LCRN Primary Care strategy.

Applying an effective/efficient integrated research infrastructure model to enable successful delivery of the national and local primary care strategy, with stronger links between social care, public health and community care. 

4.0 Increase the amount of social care research

Develop an action plan with partners that will result in an increase of social care research developed in the WM.

Ensure social care research can be operationalised with clear processes for accessing support, mapping recruitment etc.

Identify and implement a research career pathway within social care.

Work with social care partners to understand the research culture and baseline, and coproduce and support implementation of a plan for embedding a culture for research.

5.0 Engaging with the wider health and care workforce to be research active, and developing researchers of the future

Create a culture where 'service' departments are places to do research and the workforce have the time to do research.

Further develop placements in research for different student groups.

The Research Scholars initiative to be further developed so it can meet the needs of different professional groups.

Develop a mentorship scheme for NMAHPPSs aiming to submit grants.

Develop future delivery staff through reviewing schemes such as 70@70 and other champion roles.

Identify challenges for attracting new, and retaining existing, research delivery staff and develop a plan for addressing these and embedding enabling factors.

6.0 Development of an LCRN funding model that encourages collaborative working and not competition
7.0 Truly Function as 'one NIHR'

Build on existing links with other NIHR groups, ensure we are working together across the whole research development pathway.

Develop guidance on which NIHR partner does what and ensure open communication.

Identify gaps in NIHR infrastructure remits/resources and develop a plan for addressing these.

Be much more proactive in dealing with commercial work and communicating that WM is 'open for business'.

8.0 Embrace the opportunities COVID has created

Maintain and increase the awareness of research, ensuring research is in regular communications, using social media to raise awareness.including of those frontline teams who have developed their research skills to deliver COVID research.

Connecting research delivery staff from different organisations.

9.0 Research related training that meets local stakeholder needs and can be delivered more digitally
10.0 Operationalising as ecosystems for sustainability

Having the workforce available in peaks of demand.

Enable research staff to work across organisations to meet research service demands more easily.

Knowledge and best practice sharing.

Streamlining set up.

Develop research workforce of the future.

More efficient processes for non-commercial and commercial site identification.

Better assess and manage capacity and demand and future pipeline.

11.0 Increasing our digital capability in research

Review existing digital strengths and promote/support the spread of these across the region.

Develop/join together digital communities of practice and ensure research is a key component.

Delivery of two digital Improvement and Innovation Strategic Projects.

Facilitate partner working through a regional digital leadership role.

12.0 Developing a capability for research-related improvement and innovation

Having a space/opportunity to think creatively and be able to support innovative ideas to thrive.

Create a faster pace of change.

Connect people across local organisations.

Promote outputs of improvements and innovations across the region and support dissemination and wider implementation and also learning where improvement has not been achieved.

Ensure we have processes for listening to stakeholders, identifying lessons learned and sharing these widely.

Measure our culture for improvement and innovation and work together to develop and implement plans to address and celebrate findings
Overcome fear of failure and celebrate success better.

Identify regional gaps in regards to research capability and develop strategies for addressing these.