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21st August 2018

NHS professional wins place on MSc in Health Data Science at Swansea University

Clinical Fellow plans to explore how data analysis can predict the future needs of ageing patients

Geriatric Registrar and Clinical Fellow, Dr Sara Long, has won a funded place on Swansea University’s MSc in Health Data Science, through an innovative partnership with the Bevan Commission and HDR UK Wales and Northern Ireland.

Dr Long is interested in exploring how AI, machine learning and smaller-scale data analysis could help to predict the future and complex needs of patients as they grow older. She will complete the programme part-time alongside her clinical practice over three years.

Swansea University’s MSc in Health Data Science enables health professionals to develop future-proofed data analysis skills and experience to improve quality of life on a large-scale. The Bevan Commission ran the competition for a funded place on the course as it has a proven track record in connecting NHS professionals with training and development opportunities. This is demonstrated by the Bevan Exemplars scheme, which has supported over 120 projects to date and enables health and care professionals to put their expert ideas into practice.

It is hoped that the continued partnership between Swansea University and the Bevan Commission will inspire more NHS clinicians and professionals to train as Health Data Scientists, with a wide variety of bursaries on offer for those who want to undertake part-time study alongside their careers.

Ashley Akbari, Senior Research Manager & Data Scientist at HDR UK, Swansea University, said: “We hope to continue to expand the programme each year, as it allows us to collaborate and provide opportunities to the NHS and other organisations and their workforce. Applicants gain both experience and a professional qualification, as well as access to anonymised healthcare records available within the SAIL Databank and the opportunity to actively participate in a research centre and group. We were delighted to collaborate with colleagues in the Bevan Commission, building on our previous successes with partners in the NHS, and hope this flexible funded MSc opportunity will provide Sara the potential to not only gain further skills, but effectively and confidently work with health data and data science techniques.”

Dr Sara Long, Geriatric Registrar and ABCi Clinical Fellow, said: “During my time as a Welsh Clinical Leadership Fellow, I had the opportunity to explore some areas of interest that aren’t traditionally associated with medicine: I completed the taught part of a computer modelling course run by Aneurin Bevan Continuous Improvement (ABCi) and became really interested in how we can use analytic and modelling techniques to help us plan services for the patients we care for. The opportunity to take this further by working toward an MSc was just too good to pass up and I am thrilled to have been offered the place.

I’m hoping to gain a deeper understanding of how we can use the data that we collect in the NHS to make intelligent choices about future healthcare services, and to learn how I can apply these to provide my patients with the care that they need.“

Siôn Charles, Deputy Director at the Bevan Commission, said: “We were delighted to work with HDR UK and our host and supporter Swansea University to promote the opportunity of a funded place on the MSc in Health Data Science to NHS professionals across Wales.

The Bevan Exemplar programme – which enables frontline NHS staff to trial and implement their own expert ideas – demonstrates our commitment to turning prudent healthcare thinking into action and to nurturing innovators and future leaders in the health service. This partnership builds on that approach to provide NHS staff with an exciting opportunity to develop new skills in data science, which are vitally needed to help to create a health service fit for the future.”