Following a joint bid by Portsmouth City Council, HIVE Portsmouth and the University of Portsmouth, a potential £5m investment will enable more research which aims to tackle health inequalities and improve health outcomes for residents.
The funding is awarded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), the research partner of the NHS, public health and social care. It is due to be received from January 2025 for five years following the successful completion of a development year from January 2024.
The funding will establish NIHR Health Determinants Research Collaboration (HDRC) Portsmouth; a partnership combining local government, community sector and academic expertise to develop and deliver local research that can support decision-making in the city.
The research generated will focus on the building blocks of health, for example, factors such as housing, education, air quality and access to green spaces, which impact on the health and wellbeing of communities and can create inequalities across the city. It will help to inform evidence-based decisions, with better knowledge of how changes will affect different members of the community.
Cllr Matthew Winnington, Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing, Health and Care at Portsmouth City Council, said: “We welcome this opportunity to develop a research partnership which will help us to address the root causes that lead to poorer health in Portsmouth.
“What’s key will be listening to residents who are experiencing challenges; we want to learn, share with our communities what we’ve learnt and then we can use the knowledge to make a difference.”
James Hill, Director of Housing, Neighbourhoods and Building Services at Portsmouth City Council, said:
“We see this as an opportunity to change how our city uses research, to challenge the perception that research is something academics do and is distant from the communities that we serve. We want research to be done with and not done to communities.”
Professor Gordon Blunn, Professor of Bioengineering and Director of the Health and Wellbeing research theme at the University of Portsmouth, said: “The award of the HDRC to Portsmouth City Council is important for several reasons. It cements the growing collaboration with the University, which will foster a research environment within the council. The City Council and the University working together with the Portsmouth community will help develop a more evidence informed approach, taking into account the public health needs and requirements leading to more effective use of resources where they are most needed.”
Lorna Reavley, Chief Officer of HIVE Portsmouth said: “Health inequality in our city is both unfair and avoidable. This is a real chance for us to better understand how we can tackle these inequalities and ultimately improve the health and lives of local people.”