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Eileen Kaner


Emma Holland is a Research Associate in the qualitative work package of the evaluation.  

Award Title: Practitioner Evaluation Scheme 

Start Date: 1 January 2022

End Date: 31 December 2023

Location of research: 6 NHS Trusts across the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS) 

Collaborating OrganisationsNewcastle University, North East & North Cumbria ICS, South Tyneside & Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, North East Commissioning Support (NECS), University of Sunderland, Recovery College Collective, University of Bristol, University of Kent​ 

Project members:

  • Eileen Kaner, Associate DirectorFuse (Newcastle), Professor of Public Health and Primary Care Research, Director NIHR ARC North East and North Cumbria. (
  • Amy O'Donnell, Professor of Applied Health and Social Care Research | NIHR Advanced Fellow (amy.o’
  • Emma-Joy Holland

Project Title: Evaluation of the Recovery Navigator Programme in the North East North Cumbria Integrated Care System: A Mixed Methods Study

Brief Summary:

North-East England suffers disproportionately from alcohol harms; a situation which has only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. People who come to emergency departments on a regular basis with alcohol problems have multiple support needs, often due to their mental ill-health. However, most have to navigate a complex health and social care system alone when trying to access help. This can be harmful for their health and mental wellbeing. These missed opportunities to provide timely support also cause significant costs to the NHS.   

As part of a wider strategic response, a new Recovery Navigator role is being introduced in 6 NHS Trusts across the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System (NENC ICS). Recovery Navigators provide holistic support to heavy drinking adults by addressing what matters to the person This can include support with housing or benefits, and crucially helping to guide care across hospitals and local communities.    

Our study evaluates the Recovery Navigator programme’s early delivery and aims to establish how the introduction of new roles has contributed to embedding holistic and co-ordinated alcohol care.   


Our study is a mixed-methods evaluation. Through analysis of linked routine health datasets we will compare service use of patients with multiple alcohol-related unplanned hospital admissions who have had contact with a Recovery Navigator against those who have not. We will assess both the frequency of contact and the type of Recovery Navigators’ activity.  

We will hold semi-structured interviews with patients, carers and health and social care professionals to explore experiences of receiving and delivering the service. Interview analysis and interpretation will be an iterative analysis combining reflexive thematic analysis, Normalisation Process Theory and shared sense-making sessions with PPI members. 

A ‘hearts and minds’ survey will be repeated towards the end of our study. This will indicate what has happened in healthcare professional’s attitudes towards alcohol as a health problem during our study’s delivery.  

We have embedded patient and public involvement (PPI) by engaging with two regional experts by experience groups; an online group with experts by experience, carers and public contributors; and having two patient and public members in our project management group’s monthly meetings.   

Benefits anticipated:

Our findings provide evidence of whether the introduction of Recovery Navigators is making a difference to people with alcohol and mental health problems. The insights we gain about implementing changes in alcohol care across different environments will inform future policy and practice in the North East and North Cumbria and beyond.