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Bringing research and innovation together to tackle health inequalities in our communities

NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) Wessex and the Wessex Academic Health Sciences Network (AHSN) brought more than 170 people together for an event on health inequalities across the region.

The focus of the day was to bring together partners from across the region to help research and innovation tackle the inequalities that exist in health and care in Dorset, Hampshire, and the Island.

The Ageas Bowl in Southampton was a hub of conversations and ideas from those working at universities, in the NHS, local councils, charities and public contributors.

There were sixteen sessions of presentations and talks examining different elements of health inequity. They included women and the criminal justice system, young people’s access to mental health services, digital support for older people, food poverty, diet and obesity, alcohol, social care, preventing long term health problems and reaching side-lined communities.


Below are the presentations from all of the sessions which you can download

Presentations from the day
Download PDF • 5.79MB


Wessex AHSN Deputy CEO and Director of Innovation, Nicola Bent (pictured), introduced a session on equity in mental health services.

There was also a powerful insight into the new Public Involvement Academy, a collaboration of research organisations across Wessex. Heather Parsons has been working with patients and the public to design and develop the academy. She explained one alternative approach for patients to tell their story:

Trevor and Eric, two of our public contributors explained how it was for them:

Christine Mcgrath was at the event too, to explain how the newly formed Wessex Health Partners were going to work:

You can’t beat collaboration and here are a few quotes from the discussions on health inequalities:

Mental Health Services: “We need to look at the experiences of young people, listen to their needs and perceptions of mental health support and intervene sooner with help.”

Long term conditions: “We need to challenge the common narrative that multi-morbidity is inevitable in a modern ageing society”

Healthy Communities: "What impacts food choice? Cost, taste, health? Do we need to look at underlying influences like body image and the media, as well as how supermarkets advertise unhealthy foods?"

Healthy Ageing: "Some older people need support to access health and care services, especially if they are on their own, lonely and/or have trouble getting around."

Driving innovation together: "Communities often have the answers to help solve health related issues in terms of how to make an intervention work practically. What can we do to work with them better?"

Implementation is often used by clinicians and researchers to explain how to make improvements in the health and care system a reality.

Professor Saul Faust, Clinical Director of the Clinical Research Network in Wessex, wanted to know why great ideas weren't always used:

Alongside Saul was Dr Peter Wilson, a former colleague, who is now Medical Director for University Hospitals Dorset:

Professor Alison Richardson leads ARC Wessex and explained how important partnerships and research impact are to health and care in Wessex.

Professor Alison Richardson, ARC Wessex Director
“The Covid pandemic exposed the needs of people in our community like no other single event, and health and care systems are still adapting and recovering from this.
Against that backdrop we face a multitude of inequalities that have arisen partly from economic, geographic, and historical factors.
We have come together as partners in this work because health and care inequalities need to be tackled through collaboration, this requires effort by many different organisations and individuals – collective effort.”

The day strengthened partnerships, expanded networks, and provoked thought and discussion about one of the most challenging issues facing our communities.

Here are just a few pictures from the day:



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