People will benefit from a £50m research boost to tackle health inequalities in local areas and improve health outcomes across the country.
The significant investment, overseen by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), will enable 13 local authorities to establish pioneering Health Determinants Research Collaborations (HDRCs) between experts and academics to address knowledge gaps in local areas.
This will enable new high-quality research into local challenges affecting people’s health – such as facilitating research to better understand and introduce interventions to help with childhood obesity, Covid recovery, well-being mental health and drug use.
Local authorities up and down the UK are being given funding – from Plymouth and London to Newcastle and Aberdeen – to ensure health inequalities are being tackled across the board.
This forms a key part of the government’s Patient Plan by supporting people to stay well and in the community, easing pressure on health and care services and enabling people to access the care they need, when they need it.
Minister of State for Health, Robert Jenrick, said:
The pandemic shined a light on the stark health disparities that exist across the country – we are committed to leveling the nation’s health.
This funding will drive progress in addressing local health challenges, particularly in countries and communities most affected by ill health, such as high levels of obesity, drug use and poor mental health.
Everyone should be able to live long and healthy lives, regardless of their background and where they live, and this new research will help us achieve our ambition.”
This is the first time that funding for research into health inequalities has been given to local authorities to lead on innovative new projects within their communities, signaling the Government’s commitment to scale up.
Each collaboration will be created in partnership between universities and local government, benefiting from the experience and world-leading skills of the academic community. This will support the development of better data and evidence to inform local decisions to improve people’s health and reduce differences in healthy life expectancy between rich and poor.
The funding will also help stimulate economic growth across the country – particularly in some of the most deprived areas – by creating new research jobs, as well as identifying local solutions to address some of the key challenges with that our society faces, such as obesity and poverty. mental well-being.
Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR, said:
Millions of people living in Britain’s towns, cities and regions face a range of public health challenges, made even more acute during the Covid pandemic. Thanks to the NIHR, this vitally needed research funding will provide a foundation to boost the capacity and ability of local authorities to carry out high quality research.
I am always personally amazed at how people who work in local government have the added advantage of knowing their local areas and communities. This investment will equip them to instill a lasting legacy of research culture to help local populations take great strides forward in tackling health inequalities.”
Professor Brian Ferguson, Program Director of NIHR Public Health Research, said:
Many people living in communities across the country are facing major challenges that are affecting their health. Our newly opened HDRCs will serve as nationally recognized centers of excellence, enhancing local government’s ability to address these challenges while enabling the breathing space to become more research active.
This is a hugely important step forward in one of NIHR’s key aims to help local government develop research that improves health and wellbeing. By focusing on the broader determinants of health such as employment, housing, education and the physical environment, the areas we are supporting have a tremendous opportunity to make a lasting impact on health inequalities and wider deprivation.”
Professor Jim McManus, President of the UK Association of Directors of Public Health, said:
We know that health inequalities are one of the main barriers facing communities across the length and breadth of the country, particularly for disadvantaged groups and areas.
HDRCs will help foster a culture of research within local government, building on the local knowledge authorities already have and enabling what is being done to be more easily researched and evaluated to make a difference to local people.”
As well as research funding, staff working across the health and social care sector will be better equipped to tackle health inequalities from today, following the release of a new e-learning resource developed by the Office for Health Improvement and Inequalities (OHID) and Health Education England (HEE).
The free access module brings together extensive learning about what health inequalities are, and the actions and interventions that frontline staff, managers and commissioners can take to tackle them in their day-to-day work.
It has already been proven to give users an in-depth understanding of health inequalities and how they can be tackled, helping to improve quality of life while reducing costs for the NHS and benefiting the wider economy.
- The HDRCs officially began on 1 October 2022, with three of the 13 undertaking additional development work to enable HDRC status by 1 October 2023.
- This funding is from existing funding streams dedicated to research.
- Funded HDRCs:
- The Council of Hamlet of the Tower
- Newcastle City Council
- Doncaster Council
- Aberdeen City Council
- Bradford City Metropolitan District Council
- Plymouth City Council
- Gateshead Council
- Blackpool Council
- Coventry City Council
- Middlesbrough Council and Redcar & Cleveland Council **
- Lambeth in London
- Medway Council **
- Islington Council **
- ** these three areas are receiving development award funding during 2022/23 with a view to becoming full HDRCs in 2023/24.
- The Health Disparities and Health Disparities resource complements the existing 30 plus modules within the Whole of Our Health programme, covering a range of public health topics including Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Childhood Obesity and Air Pollution.
- For more information and to access the latest resource in the All Our Health collection, please select the Health Inequalities and Health Inequalities session on the All Our eHealth page or visit GOV.UK.
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