The UK government has handed over £124 million to 13 pioneering research teams working on projects to tackle some of the country's most pressing healthcare problems.

This second five-year investment, made via the National Institute for Health Research, is designed to help patients benefit from innovative new treatments and techniques which, according to the Department of Health, could "revolutionise future healthcare", as well as stimulating the research economy and attracting more research funding in future.

Each of the 13 research teams, known as NIHR Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs), is working on a number of different projects, including: reducing the risk of dementia through exercise; strategies to improve the nutrition and health of those diagnosed with the condition; improving the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; preventing diabetes; and better aftercare for stroke patients.

Others are looking at reducing pressures on A&E and cutting down on costly hospital conditions, particularly in children under five and patients with long-term conditions.

Health minister Lord Howe said the move is "great news" for patients, noting "with a growing elderly population, the need for innovative and effective solutions has never been more important".

Improving lives

"These NIHR CLAHRCs will link the NHS, universities, and other relevant organisations providing care for patients in what will be ground-breaking work to improve the lives of thousands of patients across the country," added Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor at the DH.

Prof Derek Bell, Director of CLAHRC for Northwest London and Chair in Acute Medicine at Imperial, has also welcomed the funding, which, he says, will allow his team "to continue to support patients, staff, and academics to improve healthcare".

His team will focus on improving care for people in their early years, including those with sickle cell disease or with allergies, for those with symptoms of breathlessness from heart failure or airways diseases, and for those who are frail, he said.

There have already been a stream of documented successes under the programme, such as research that discovered the risk of death in patients with severe bleeding was reduced by up to 30% if the blood clotting tranexamic acid is administered within three hours, potentially saving 400 lives a year in the UK.

Elsewhere, patients at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust created a booklet to keep track of medication and any changes, with ten thousand copies ordered by healthcare organisations across England and Scotland since mid April and 1,078 downloads of its app form across 28 countries.

And staff at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital developed a care package of services and information to help COPD patients after hospital discharge, which has "reduced lengths of stay, saved money and is being championed by the British Thoracic Society for use across the UK," according to Imperial.