Alder Hey: Building a Healthier Future for Children Everywhere
Alder Hey and the University of Liverpool officially opened the first phase of a dedicated research, education and innovation centre recently adjacent to Alder Hey’s state-of the art children’s hospital in Liverpool. The Hospital and ‘Institute in the Park’ are the first of two buildings to be completed on the Alder Hey in the Park Campus in Liverpool at a combined cost of £260m.
The ‘Institute in the Park’ will be a major catalyst for making a significant step change in children’s healthcare that will impact regionally, nationally and internationally. It will bring together outstanding leadership and expertise in multi-disciplinary education, research and innovation, all focused together on improving the care and understanding of children and their health needs.
Practicing an open-innovation approach where people can collaborate freely, the Institute is occupied by academic researchers, healthcare professionals, technology companies, commercial research teams, students and educators. The unique co-location of the Institute within one of Europe’s busiest children’s hospitals means that every child and all the healthcare professionals that care for them will have the opportunity to routinely participate in studies. Alder Hey’s young patients take immense pride in helping improve healthcare for others as well as themselves.
Sir David Henshaw, Chair of Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust said: “We have great ambitions to improve the health of children everywhere by creating a unique environment where ideas can flourish, be tried out in a real-world hospital environment and then become available as practical solutions which are incorporated into the latest medical education. We want to attract the best and brightest people with different expertise and experience to collaborate alongside us to contribute to the physical wellbeing of children and also the economic wellbeing of the North West of England.”
The ‘Institute in the Park’ is built on a solid foundation; it hosts part of the National Co-ordinating Centre of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN), responsible for all children’s research across the country and hosts national centres of excellence in research across many disciplines including childhood infections, respiratory disorders, cancer, neurodisability, international health, musculoskeletal diseases and the UK’s only Experimental Arthritis Treatment Centre for children. It also supports the outstanding NIHR Alder Hey Clinical Research Facility for studies of new treatment for children. Teams of biomedical researchers are searching for new better and safer medicines for children and developing new formulations of medicines especially for children.
Vice-Chancellor of University of Liverpool Professor Janet Beer said: “The University and Alder Hey have successfully worked together for nearly 50 years at our Institute of Child Health, which addresses research in areas such as sepsis, arthritis, bronchiolitis and asthma. Together we have made major advances, including the world’s first trial of a fully licensed drug for use in children with arthritis. This new facility would not have been possible without generous donations from our partners and supporters, who have helped us to further improve the health of children around the world.”
Unusually for an NHS campus, Alder Hey also houses an innovation hub with a specific focus on technology. The Alder Hey innovation service aims to harness technology that is not yet widely used in the healthcare context (such as 3D printing and bio-sensors) to improve health outcomes, particularly in surgery and critical care. The team is working with a number of external partners on the use of digital technology to distract young patients when undergoing unpleasant procedures and is also examining how to better utilise the ‘big data’ generated within hospital systems to improve how the hospital is run and how patients experience it.
The ‘Institute in the Park’ also provides the perfect location for all Alder Hey’s teaching and training sessions, along with larger conferences and events, enabling Alder Hey to deliver exciting training opportunities to enhance the skills and knowledge of those looking after children and young people. Alder Hey has an international reputation for educating paediatric clinicians of the future, with more than 500 medical and 400 nursing students a year.
The University of Liverpool and Alder Hey Children’s Charity have worked in close partnership to raise funding to build the first phase of the Institute. Donors and pledges include; the European Regional Development Fund, Liverpool City Council, Matalan, the Wolfson Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust, The North West Coast Academic Health Science Network, Alumni and local supporters. Fundraising to complete phase II of the project is ongoing.
Commenting on the fundraising campaign, Clare White, CEO of Alder Hey Children’s Charity said: “The Institute in the Park has been made possible by the generosity of many institutional and individual donors and we would like to give them our heartfelt thanks. To realise the whole potential of this facility and bring even more researchers and educators onto the campus, we will be fundraising for phase II over the next two years.”