CLAHRC: a collaboration for leadership in applied health research and care

Prof Jane Sandall, Prof Lucilla Poston, Dr Annette Briley, Mr Paul Seed, Prof Debra Bick, Prof Andrew Shennan, Prof Rachel Tribe, Prof Lucy Chappell, Ms Amanda Bye, Ms Cristina Fernandez-Turienzo, Prof Graham Thornicroft

CLAHRC South London is a body of researchers, doctors and NHS managers working to improve healthcare south of the River Thames. Two studies are currently looking at pregnancy care: “Birth and Beyond” and “POPPiE”.

What is CLAHRC South London?

CLAHRC South London, or the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care, is a partnership of researchers, doctors, and NHS managers working south of the River Thames. It aims to help the NHS give the highest standard of care to everyone in all areas of health, wherever they live and whatever their background. South London is more diverse than a lot of the UK, but it is also poorer and has higher levels of ill health.

One of CLAHRC’s current themes is ‘maternity, birth and beyond’. Pregnancy is a great time to promote a healthy lifestyle so that babies are protected from health risks, beginning in the womb. Within this theme, there are currently two studies running: ‘Birth and Beyond’ and ‘POPPiE’.

Birth and Beyond

The Birth and Beyond study aims to lower the risks for mothers with medical conditions and pregnancy complications, for them and their baby after birth. It began by reviewing current practices to see what can be done better in the future. Our researchers then developed an approach to help women with heart disease which involves a team of healthcare professionals from different disciplines working together. They plan to test the same approach to help women with diabetes, and those with high blood pressure.


POPPiE is a pilot study to test a new way of caring for women at risk of premature birth. Women who have ongoing care from a midwife throughout pregnancy and birth are 24% less likely to give birth too early. However, often women end up with fragmented care, especially if they have a premature birth.

Our researchers think that preterm surveillance clinics, like the Tommy’s clinic at St Thomas’, are the best way of preventing hospital admissions, while keeping track of women at risk of giving birth too early. To do this, CLAHRC South London created and tested a new way of caring for women at risk. This included a preterm surveillance clinic and made sure that women are cared for consistently from the start of pregnancy until after birth. 334 women took part in a trial to look at whether this can help prevent premature births, while also asking women and families about their experiences of care. The results of this trial will be announced soon.

What difference will these projects make?

Through the CLAHRC South London partnership, researchers supported by Tommy’s are finding the best ways to help women at risk of complications during and after pregnancy. This is particularly important in this area of South London, which is poorer and has more health problems than other areas of the country. This research will help to ensure that every woman can have a good pregnancy and a healthy baby, wherever they live.

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