DMU to be part of five-year programme to investigate health inequalities

Health researchers at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are part of a new programme designed to help research and reduce health inequalities in Leicestershire.

£5.25m of Heath Determinants Research Collaboration (HDRC) funding has been awarded to the public health team at Leicestershire County Council by the National Institute for Health and Care and Research (NIHR), as part of a wide-ranging five-year programme to find out more about the health differences in the county.

The NIHR is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care and awarded to the county council’s public health team with the money specifically for this project.

public health IMAGE

With the average living age in Leicestershire up to six years lower in some areas compared to others, and other health factors influenced by education, employment, housing and air quality, the county council funding bid aims to take a comprehensive look at how the authority can best reduce these inequalities.

This will include undertaking research within local communities and putting the evidence gathered into practice. This East Midlands collaboration will take place with the University of Leicester, DMU, University of Nottingham, and Loughborough University.

DMU's work will be led by Professor Bertha Ochieng, who is Professor of Integrated Health and Social Care. She said: "We are delighted to be part of this important work to investigate the causes of health inequalities across the county. We have significant expertise in working with marginalised communities to support public health initiatives and we hope that by working together with partners we can make a real difference to improving the lives of patients in Leicestershire."

Leicestershire Academic Health Partners, which includes the NHS and health-focused academic organisations, are also a key part of the innovative collaboration.

The priorities for research will be identified by Leicestershire communities through the collaboration to ensure that the research is relevant and meaningful to local areas and the inequalities they face.

Importantly, research and actions will become part of the day-to-day business of the council across all departments to bring sustained culture change.

Over the next year the county council will develop plans to make sure the funding is invested in the right research that brings the greatest long-term benefit to Leicestershire for when the research collaboration begins in 2025.

Councillor Louise Richardson, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “This is a welcome initiative which is also being undertaken across other areas of the country and we’re so pleased to have the opportunity to carry out this research here in Leicestershire.

“We know that we have high levels of conditions such as asthma, cancer, obesity and diseases of the heart, and the work we put into this research will hopefully see a reduction in these conditions and the causes of inequality as we tackle the problems at source, rather than just relying on the NHS.

“This will be a collaborative effort with experts in universities and the NHS to make sure we do this right and maximise the health benefits that this research can bring to Leicestershire residents.”

A dedicated webpage laying out the plans will be available on the county council’s website to keep the public updated on the research and how they can get involved.

Posted on Tuesday 9 January 2024

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