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University partners to benefit from funding boost to tackle county health inequalities

Cars and buses on a busy city street

The NCSEM’s University partners will benefit from a multi-million pound investment that has been awarded to Leicestershire County Council to help research and reduce health inequalities in Leicestershire. £5.25m of Health 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 government’s Department of Health and Social Care and awarded to the county council’s public health team with the money specifically for this project. 
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 bid for the funding aims to take a comprehensive look at how the authority can best reduce these inequalities. 
Actions will include undertaking research within local communities and putting the evidence gathered into practice. This East Midlands collaboration will take place with Loughborough University, the University of Leicester, De Montfort University, and the University of Nottingham.  
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. 

Professor Lauren Sherar, Institutional Lead for the HDRC, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Loughborough University to further cement its collaboration with Leicestershire County Council in creating rapid evidence for expedient impact that will benefit our local communities and to reduce inequalities in health.

“This important work from the HDRC maps directly on the University’s strategic aim of delivering improvements to public health and wellbeing. We are delighted with the new funding announcement that enables us to continue impactful research that will undoubtedly change lives for the better.”

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.