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Greater Essex awarded £5 million to launch research partnership tackling health inequality

Health / Mon 11th Dec 2023 at 08:29am

AN exciting Essex-based partnership has secured £5 million for research into the issues that cause ill health in our county.

The collaboration, between Southend, Essex and Thurrock councils, Anglia Ruskin and the University of Essex, with support from health partners, has been awarded £5 million of national funding to address health inequality across the county.

The new Health Determinants Research Collaboration (HDRC) is one of 11 funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) to boost research capacity and capability in some of the UK’s most deprived areas.

Following the successful bid, the new HDRC will research public health improvements across the county. It is due to be introduced on 1 January 2024 and will see the partnership receive £1 million every year for five years towards its research.

Councillor John Spence, Cabinet Member for Health, Adult Social Care and ICS Integration at Essex County Council, said: “The difference in life expectancy between Essex’s most and least deprived wards is around 16 years for women and 22 years for men. This reflects stark variations in our communities’ economic and educational opportunities.

“Good quality research is essential if we and our partners are to succeed in tackling this inequality, and the new partnership could be a game-changer. Research can foster a shared understanding of residents’ needs and priorities while enabling us to develop a more effective strategy to implement change.”

Councillor James Moyies, Cabinet Member with responsibility for public health at Southend-on-Sea City Council, said: “The council is pleased to be joining forces with our partners for this innovative research collaboration.

“This £5 million fund is a significant investment in understanding and addressing the health inequalities prevalent in our communities and we look forward to using research insights to drive positive change. By working collaboratively, we aim to narrow the gaps in life expectancy and create a healthier, more equitable future for all residents in Southend-on-Sea and Greater Essex.”

Professor Mariachiara Di Cesare, Director of the Institute of Public Health and Wellbeing at the University of Essex, said: “We are extremely pleased to be part of this partnership in which local authorities and academia come together to address health inequalities in our region.

“We are exactly where we want and need to be to ensure the achievement of our mission to improve people’s lives, transform communities and benefit society. Through this partnership we will be able to generate the evidence needed for policy and decision-makers and to ensure research becomes a common good for our community of residents.”

Professor Matt Fossey, Professor of Public Services Research at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “We are delighted to be working with partners from across Greater Essex to develop research capacity and skills. This will provide the evidence to better understand and address some of the fundamental challenges posed by local health inequalities.

“The impacts, for example, of social and food poverty, gambling, substance abuse, obesity and so on are an enormous strain on the region’s health and social services as well as our local economies. This applied research partnership will be critical in making a difference.”

Samantha Glover, Chief Executive Officer of Healthwatch Essex, said: “Healthwatch Essex are pleased to be part of this exciting research opportunity. Working in collaboration, we will be able to identify the key challenges affecting health inequalities and come together to provide insight for positive impacts to reduce them.”

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