Revitalising the Health Equity Agenda

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Social and Political Science

Abstract

The potential to enjoy a healthy and secure life is core to human flourishing. Health services, health status and the future for health and social care continue to be a top priority for the public and political parties. Differences in health experiences and outcomes are well documented, whilst debates continue as to how best to address these. Given that recent evidence suggests that both economic inequalities and inequalities in health are widening, this series is a timely opportunity to bring together research and action.

Our health status is based upon a range of biological, social, economic and geographical factors. Where we are born and the health status of our parents matters a lot. For most of the population household incomes, education and employment opportunities, along with any inheritance, dictate our social class and life chances. These opportunities differ across regions and localities too. Such is the concern of the public and the importance of health to our everyday lives that there are daily reports in the media on people's experiences of using health services and the implications of age, gender, social class and location on health outcomes.

The aim of this seminar series is to reinvigorate debates along with potential actions to address inequalities in health. We will work towards these goals through bringing together researchers, practitioners and policy makers from early to later career, to share and gain knowledge and insights. Debates will encourage wider thinking and ideas on how to best address the many factors which promote health and wellbeing.

The series comprises three one day conferences bringing together a wide audience and six seminars for focused discussion on specific case studies and policies.

We will use the framework provided by the World Health Organisation's Commission on Social Determinants of Health to organise the content of the series programme and bring debates alive through a case study of the North East of England, where health is generally worse in the North East than other regions in the UK and there are major disparities in health even within local boundaries. The series will produce a number of outputs for a range of audiences. There will be short briefing papers for the public and service providers; longer pieces for research and policy audiences; and social media and web based materials and debates. After 36 months of activity we will have established a strong network that will sustain long-term research programmes and engagement with public policy.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit?
The seminar series will appeal to a wide range of disciplines, NGOs and public sector organisations. The topics under investigation and discussion are at the heart of intellectual and political debates on health and inequalities in health. Health, health studies and the related subjects of economics, social policy, geography and politics underpin the study of health and remain popular with PGRs and early career researchers in academe and other sectors. The need to critically examine, monitor/evaluate and design policies and projects is imperative at a time of widening inequalities.

The main non-academic beneficiaries of knowledge arising from this seminar series are anticipated to be policy makers and advisers in government in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) and practitioners (those working as managers and practitioners in local authority (LA) education, health and social service departments and third sector agencies - voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprise organisations operating in the field of health and social welfare. The series will also be of interest to journalists and to service users and members of the public as well as to the various pressure groups which campaign for and against some of the issues identified in the series.

How will they benefit?
Policy beneficiaries: The current policy context demonstrates the need to reinvigorate debates and action on inequalities in health; what works? what might be adopted and adapted? How might be share what has not worked so well and what is working? In short, the lessons learned and potential for lateral thinking about evidence will be promoted by the series. It is anticipated that presentations (papers and posters), outputs (briefing papers, articles and an edited book), along with social and web based materials will offer a bank of ideas and potential ways forward.

Practice beneficiaries: The series will offer opportunities to enhance critical awareness of the social determinants of health, the impact of inequalities and the challenges to action. Outputs will inform training and education, with, for example, the case study of the North East and the exploration of European and global contexts. We anticipate that involvement in the series will contribute to improved practice and professional reflection.

Society as a whole: The series is not an end in itself, albeit that events and outputs will offer tangible gains for user groups and the public in general. It is likely that the public will engage through social and web based media as these can act as springboards for debate and action. Thus we will ensure that communication in accessible and open formats is prioritised.

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
ES/M003027/1 01/12/2014 20/08/2017 £27,698
ES/M003027/2 Transfer ES/M003027/1 01/10/2017 30/11/2018 £13,203
 
Description The potential to enjoy a healthy and secure life is core to human flourishing. Health services, health status and the future for health and social care continue to be a top priority for the public and political parties. Differences in health experiences and outcomes are well documented, whilst debates continue as to how best to address these. Given that recent evidence suggests that both economic inequalities and inequalities in health are widening, this series was a timely opportunity to bring together research and action.
Our health status is based upon a range of biological, social, economic and geographical factors. Where we are born and the health status of our parents matters a lot. For most of the population household incomes, education and employment opportunities, along with any inheritance, dictate our social class and life chances. These opportunities differ across regions and localities too. Such is the concern of the public and the importance of health to our everyday lives that there are daily reports in the media on people's experiences of using health services and the implications of age, gender, social class and location on health outcomes.
The aim of this seminar series was to reinvigorate debates along with potential actions to address inequalities in health. We worked towards these goals by bringing together researchers, practitioners and policy makers across the regions, from early to later career, to share and gain knowledge and insights. Debates encouraged wider thinking and ideas on how to best address the many factors which promote health and wellbeing. The series comprised three one day conferences, six seminars and a final workshop to draw together ideas and consider future agendas. Over 200 participants engaged in various activities as part of the series.
Across activities we discussed a range of case studies and policies. The organisers adopted the framework provided by the World Health Organisation's Commission on Social Determinants of Health to organise the content of the series programme. Emerging from the series is a deeper concern for the conceptual breadth of health, care, resource inequalities and ageing. Priority setting in health and related policy and practice agendas remains a major concern and we reflected on the potential to 'interrogate scarcity' (Schrecker, T. (2018) Priority Setting: Right Answer to a Far too Narrow Question?, Int Jnl of Health Policy and Management, 7 (1), 86-88).
Lastly, to revitalise debates which have become mired in party political vested interests and electoral politics we would strongly recommend co-production of evidence, policies and resultant services changes. All too often research and policy developments are done on and not with service users and communities. Examples of co-production offer local ways forward might be replicated more widely to forge regional approaches to addressing inequalities.
Exploitation Route Much of what we have produced is about ways of working and engaging to enhance the potential for critical reflection.

In summary, we would encourage colleagues to locate current and future work with: -

1. reflections on existing and prior work; avoid replication and draw upon relevant experiences and developments
2. a range of groups and organisations to ensure diversity of experiences and ideas
3. dissemination of ideas and outputs across communities and academic networks

Current work on co-production offers opportunities for locally based and relevant ways to address inequity in health.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL https://www.dur.ac.uk/research/directory/view/?mode=project&id=748