Major new research award to reduce health inequalities

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been awarded a major new research grant to help improve population health and reduce inequalities.

The four-year project, called Healthy Urban Places, worth over £8 million, will form part of the newly established UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Population Health Improvement UK initiative.

The Trust is only one of four to be awarded the prestigious grant for this project which is now underway.

The project will look at how and why population health is affected by local environments such as clean air, quality housing, parks, public transport, access to schools and health services etc, and its aim will be to directly influence decisions that improve local places for health.

It will work with partners in two major northern cities – Bradford and Liverpool – harnessing existing major research initiatives including the Born in Bradford and Children Growing Up in Liverpool cohorts, which together will be tracking the health and wellbeing of over 70,000 families.

Director of Born in Bradford, Professor Rosie McEachan is the Chief Investigator and will lead on the project.

She said: “Much preventable illness such as depression, chronic disease and obesity is impacted by where we live. In cities, pollution, lack of places to play and socialise, lack of parks, poor quality housing, lack of health services, poor public transport, antisocial behaviour and lack of availability of cheap, healthy food all contribute to ill health. If we can improve the places we live, then we can improve the health of our population.

“With the Healthy Urban Places project, we will bring together local communities, decision-makers and researchers to design ‘health’ into urban planning, making our cities healthier and happier places to live and thrive.”

Healthy Urban Places is a partnership between the Bradford Institute for Health Research (BIHR) which is based at the Trust, University College London, the Universities of Liverpool, York, Leeds and Bradford, Imperial College London, the Bradford Council Health Determinants Research Collaboration and ISGlobal, a scientific research and knowledge transfer centre dedicated to global health based in Spain.

Two ‘community collaboratives’ in Bradford and Liverpool will be established to bring together communities, researchers and decision-makers to guide the work.

The collaboratives will train local people to become peer researchers who will speak to over 1,000 residents to explore what makes a healthy place. They will work with key stakeholders and decision makers to look into how place-based changes impact on the health of communities in Bradford and Liverpool.