Bradford Council has received £4.7million to set up new health research collaboration.
The centre will bring together expertise from health partners across the district and region, including Bradford Council, Bradford Institute for Health Research, The Universities of Bradford and York to conduct in-depth research into the causes and consequences of health inequality.
In addition, the approach will assess the impact of the work done to address inequality. The findings from this research will help shape local, national and regional policy in order to tackle the issue.
Bradford as a district is big and diverse, but within that socio-economic diversity lay chasmic health inequalities. For example, on average, the life expectancy of someone living in its wealthiest areas can be as much as 11 years longer than someone in its poorest.
Living in near busy streets and fast food outlets and a lack of green space can lead to poor health in children. And while Bradford Council and its partners are already taking a research-led approach to tackling health inequality, such as investing in pocket parks in urban areas, the establishment of the HDRC gives the district the chance to build on these and for the Council to operate on equal terms in Bradford’s public health research.
The NIHR funding will be used to employ a number of dedicated researchers, policy makers and support staff for the next five years, as well as establishing an online presence and annual conference so that their findings and best practice can be shared nationally.
Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said: “I am delighted that Bradford Council has been awarded funding so that we can work with our partners to set up an HDRC. It is simply unacceptable that in 21st century Britain we have such huge gaps in health equality. To address these inequalities, we need high quality research into its causes and understanding of interventions. Few local authorities currently possess the capacity to undertake research of the type and rigour required to find out what really works and deliver large scale impact on health inequalities. This funding will help us to gather that evidence and implement policies and practice that work.”
Kersten England, Bradford Council Chief Executive, said: “The NIHR funding of the HDRC is fantastic news for Bradford. By establishing a research culture and re-enforcing existing research infrastructure, it gives us the capacity to help us transform our understanding of what works best and for who, to make better and more cost-effective decisions, improve services and to secure the greatest positive impact on health outcomes for our communities.”
One recent example of research done in Bradford that has helped to shape policy is the Born in Bradford (BiB) cohort study carried out by Bradford Institute for Health Research (BIHR). The data gathered during informed programmes such as Glasses for Classes. After it was found that 2,500 children in Bradford do not the glasses they need, and that schools were unaware of their uncorrected eyesight issues, funding was granted so that schools could provide children with glasses. This in turn led to an improvement in literacy levels within those schools.
Another example of the power of research is the work done by BIHR into detecting early signs of Autism using he foundation stage profile in schools and the classroom based interventions programme which has demonstrated that early intervention in the classroom can reduce the later impacts of Autism.
Professor John Wright, Director at BIHR, said: “This is fantastic news for Bradford. One of the key lessons from all the evidence that has come from Born in Bradford is how important wider determinants such as housing, built environment and education are for good health and wellbeing. The HDRC will embed science and research at the heart of the local authority and provide the next crucial step in our journey to building Bradford as a City of Research.”
The mission of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. We do this by:
- Funding high quality, timely research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care;
- Investing in world-class expertise, facilities and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services;
- Partnering with patients, service users, carers and communities, improving the relevance, quality and impact of our research;
- Attracting, training and supporting the best researchers to tackle complex health and social care challenges;
- Collaborating with other public funders, charities and industry to help shape a cohesive and globally competitive research system;
- Funding applied global health research and training to meet the needs of the poorest people in low and middle income countries.
NIHR is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. Its work in low and middle income countries is principally funded through UK Aid from the UK government.