February 14, 2024

CHORAL Launch: Collaborating on children’s health research

Stephanie Roberts
Research Programme Manager

A new partnership to tackle the serious health and wellbeing problems affecting children and young people across Leeds, Yorkshire and the UK has been officially launched.

The CHORAL (Child Health Outcomes Research at Leeds) partnership is bringing together scientists, politicians, public sector organisations, and advocacy groups in a mission to boost children’s health and wellbeing. It is a collaboration between the University of Leeds; Leeds Children’s Hospital (part of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust), Leeds Hospitals Charity, and partners across the health, social and public sectors.

“The CHORAL launch marks the start of the campaign to create a country that works for all children and young people” – Professor Adam Glaser, CHORAL Director

CHORAL Director Adam Glaser, Professor of Paediatric Oncology in the University of Leeds’ School of Medicine, and Honorary Consultant at Leeds Children’s Hospital, said: “The cost to life and public services of failing to provide the right help is enormous, and comes at a time when young people are more likely than ever to become long term survivors of life-threatening illnesses such as cancer or congenital heart disease. 

“Health services across Yorkshire are already delivering strong results. Now CHORAL is providing a task force capable of building on these successes to give every child the best possible start in life.

“The CHORAL launch marks the start of the campaign to create a country that works for all children and young people and we will be promoting how our regional universities can play their role in improving outcomes for children and young people.”

Over 200 invited stakeholders met at Cloth Hall Court in Leeds to drive this connected approach, and heard from national leaders including Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation; Anne Longfield CBE, Executive Chair of the Centre for Young Lives and former Children’s Commissioner for England; the Right Honourable Dame Andrea Leadsom MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Start for Life, and Preet Gill MP, Shadow Minister of State for Primary Care and Public Health.

Multidisciplinary approach

The partnership is taking a multidisciplinary approach with research focusing on three key areas of children’s health: childhood cancer, children’s mental health and life-threatening illnesses. 

The launch comes as new government data is showing that millions of children and young people in the UK are living with serious health and wellbeing problems.
– One in nine children are living with a disability 
– One in five children in the UK are living in food poverty
– One in five children entering primary school are living with obesity or overweight

Esther Wakeman, CEO of Leeds Hospitals Charity said: “Leeds Hospitals Charity is committed to supporting innovation and research, encompassed in our values of transforming lives and working together. CHORAL is a project that embodies both of these values and we are thrilled to be part of this project contributing to a future where every child has the chance to live a healthier, brighter life. By collaborating with Leeds NHS hospitals Trust, University of Leeds and other charities, together we can bring hope to families.”

Leeds Hospitals Charity CEO Esther Wakeman speaking at the launch of CHORAL

Leeds Hospitals Charity CEO Esther Wakeman

Preet Gill MP, Shadow Minister of State for Primary Care and Public Health, said: “I was really excited to hear about the CHORAL partnership. It’s crucial that we prioritise children’s health and approach it in innovative ways.
“Child health outcomes in Britain have been plummeting over the last 14 years of Conservative governments. We can all agree this has got to change.
“Labour has a plan to create the healthiest and happiest generation of children that has ever lived. As part of our Child Health Action Plan, we will cut waiting lists for children, crack down on smoking and vaping, and introduce breakfast clubs for all primary school children.”

Vibrant community

To increase the impact of its research output, CHORAL will develop evidence-driven policies to improve the development, commissioning and delivery of the public services that support children. 

CHORAL’s world-leading scientists are already generating evidence to make improvements in child health, through work to support world class research studies and clinical trials, nurturing a vibrant community of researchers and healthcare professionals.

  • Laboratory scientists working in tandem with clinicians have transformed the classification of certain aggressive childhood cancers and are identifying novel proteins for targeting of new treatments.
  • The next generation of academic child health clinicians are being trained through a major investment in the development of a sustainable pipeline
  • CHORAL is contributing research to the Child of the North project which during 2024 will produce 12 reports on different children’s health topics, and will make evidence-based recommendations that would allow the UK’s government to improve the health and wellbeing of the UK population. It is led by the N8 Partnership of research intensive universities and former Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield’s new Centre for Young Lives think tank. 
  • CHORAL data scientists identified disparities between the north and the south of England in specific health, social and educational inequalities linked to deprivation and ethnicity, as part of the Child of the North project

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