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The Bamford Centre aims to improve the quality of life for people with mental health problems and their carers through excellent research evidence that informs and influences policy and practice.

The centre also sees to understand the determinants of health and wellbeing at the population level and work with government and other agencies to pay more attention to prevention and early intervention.

A core activity is to develop partnerships across the statutory and voluntary mental health sectors in Northern Ireland and beyond, and developing collaborative research programmes with academic and clinical organisations in the Republic of Ireland, UK and internationally.

Currently, researchers in the Bamford Centre work in partnership with clinicians and managers in the NHS and DHSSPS to evaluate and improve services.

The centre also plays a significant role in the development of mental health research networks in both the statutory and voluntary sectors.

It adopts a multi-disciplinary approach to mental health research and is able to draw on a considerable range of skills and expertise in health services research and population health sciences.

Our core staff, associate researchers and mental health partners come from a range of professional backgrounds and disciplines including

  • psychology
  • social work
  • nursing
  • epidemiology
  • psychiatry
  • health economics
  • medical sociology


Our objectives will be to strengthen our engagement and expertise in the following areas:

Relevance to Policy and Practice

We will build expertise through the development of research that is relevant to the needs and priorities of patients, government and services.

This will necessitate a commitment to link with emergent policy on mental health and wellbeing and good communication with policy makers and service commissioners. In this way we will define the Bamford Centre focus on research areas that are indicated as priorities for government and the research councils.

Public and Patient Involvement in mental health research

We will ensure that service user and caregiver involvement is given a dominant and sustainable role in our research activity.  An engagement with service users and carers will be a long-term commitment for the Bamford Centre rather than based on ad hoc necessity.

Research Partnerships

Health and Social Care Trusts

We will seek to work with health and social care organisations and professionals to ensure that our research is relevant to the needs of patients and services.

The Third Sector

We will develop shared academic and research activities with health and social care professionals within relevant voluntary sector organisations.

Academic partners

We will strengthen our interdisciplinary research within the Ulster University while building national and international collaboration with academic research partners in Ireland, the UK and internationally.

Creating the research infrastructure

We will build our relationships with national and international researchers by taking a leading role in establishment of the Clinical Research Network in Mental Health. Thus, we will continue to build the MH research infrastructures in Northern Ireland and to help create an all-island MH research network.

These will link to the activities of research communities, industry and health services in the UK, Europe and North America.  Key areas for development of capacity will be clinical trials and the administrative data sets.

Education and Training

We will seek to develop excellent postgraduate degree and certificate courses (vocational and research methods) that attract individuals from health and social care organisations across the island of Ireland.

Professor David Bamford

Professor David Bamford

The Bamford Centre is named after the late Professor David Bamford, in honour of his outstanding contributions to mental health services and social work education in Northern Ireland.

Professor Bamford was Head of the School of Applied Social Studies and Director of Social Work Research at Ulster. Further afield, he was awarded an honorary Professorship at the University of Transylvania, due to his contributions in the development of social work education in Romania. He was also pivotal in the development of The Aftercare Start Programme, a charity set up in 2004 to support young people being discharged from state orphanages in Romania, in their transition to independent life.

In 2002, Professor Bamford was commissioned by the Minister of Health and Social Services to lead an independent and far reaching analysis of all aspects of law, policy and provisions which affected people with mental health needs or a learning disability in Northern Ireland.

This groundbreaking review, which was subsequently named the Bamford Review, was published in 2007. It presented compelling evidence of the need for a comprehensive reform and modernisation of mental health services in Northern Ireland.

The publication of The Bamford Review led to a further eleven major evidence based reports on key areas of mental health and learning disability, which have had a major impact in the field of mental health across Northern Ireland and the UK.