I think it’s fair to say that those of us in public health all want to improve health and wellbeing and help reduce the gap between the least and most healthy in our society.
And that’s why Fuse exists - to tackle the major health problems people face, that prevent them leading longer and more fulfilling lives.
This mission is a two-way collaboration with our partners in public health and social care. But, we face a dilemma:
1) How useful is most research?
2) How many decisions in public health commissioning or service development are properly evidence based?
Or to massively simplify (I’m no academic):
1) Supply - there are researchers in universities waving around their academic papers shouting: “I wish my research would change the world!”
2) Demand - there are our partners in public health (often called policy and practice partners, although I’m not sure this really captures them) seated at their desks thinking: “I wish I had some evidence to inform my decision”.
At which point - spotting a potentially dangerous chasm - we have traditionally all looked to the skies for help. To the shout of: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Evidence-man (unmistakable ‘E’ on red underwear over blue tights), an academic might have flown in with even shinier evidence briefs (double entendre intended!) or an implementation ‘tool’ to rescue the situation.
Unfortunately our evidence superhero often hits the wall with a resounding ‘Thwaak!’ as his worked up implementation solution still fails to grab his practice partners and become part of their reality.
All too often research results take too long to get into practice or they aren’t as relevant or useful as they should be. Maybe we need to look at public health problems from a practitioner perspective and work collaboratively to define the sorts of research questions we should be asking and attempting to answer? Perhaps then the answers would be both relevant and pertinent to local circumstances.
And that’s why today we’ve launched askfuse, our new research and evaluation service with a single point of contact. Designed to respond to requests made by our partners working in public health and social care, we hope that it will help to find research solutions to address pressing local issues.
The aim is to provide a service that acts as a portal to broker access to expertise in the five North East Universities, provides useful, timely outputs, that are independent, high quality and in plain English, builds long term working collaboration to improve flow of evidence into practice, and works for the benefit of the health of local people.
Working with those people at the coal face, we’ll be able to evaluate services, review documents, analyse and interpret data, or collaborate on larger projects that establish new evidence.
Over a number of months Janet Shucksmith, Rosemary Rushmer, Avril Rhodes, Rebekah McNaughton and I have been putting all the systems in place to ensure that the service (fingers crossed) runs smoothly but I won’t bore you with all that detail, just visit the askfuse webpages to find out more.
The Batphone is manned and - all being well - we will soon be travelling around the region in the BatCorsa.
We’ve even created an animation to help communicate the message about askfuse in an innovative and exciting way, which you can see premiered at the launch of askfuse during Fuse’s fifth birthday celebration today at Beamish Hall. Hope to see you there.