Addressing Health Inequalities is a major strategic focus across the NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility.

We have documented how clinical research and public involvement can make a difference to health inequalities through

Our place-based work in Wigan has identified specific barriers and opportunities to participation in experimental medicine research related to:

Members of the public, including

  • Multiple barriers throughout the patient journey
  • Lack of awareness of publicly funded health research
  • Concerns related to mental health, COVID-19 and safety
  • Specific health literacy, access challenges and cultural barriers amongst first generation Bangladeshi elders
  • Fatalism and entitlement
  • Unfamiliarity with UK healthcare systems, entitlement, rights to

Community, Health and Wellbeing Professionals, including:

  • Issues of ‘parachuting in’ and non-reciprocal relationships
  • Complexities of working with vulnerable people
  • Mistrust of public health professionals
  • Opportunities to work with social prescribing systems
  • Socio-economic disparities in hyper-localities
  • Digital exclusion
  • Integrated care systems that don’t include health research
  • Access to tertiary care facilities
  • Health literacy

We have strengthened our approach to capturing and monitoring data on inclusive research. An Equalities Service study has informed our understanding of the demographics of participation in CRF research, across all protected characteristics and supported research staff to engage with health inequalities in their work. More widely we routinely collect demographic data relating to people engaged and involved across the breadth of Vocal’s work, to inform our reach and approaches to inclusion.

Our activity in Wigan has highlighted how joined-up working with local primary care services, research infrastructure and community organisations, that house multiple projects and reach a diverse number of local residents, is essential to supporting ‘research-ready’ communities according to their needs. Gaps in communication still exist between all agencies.

Our next steps will address this by partnering with community organisations, local GP practices, other GM NIHR infrastructure (including the Clinical Research Network Greater Manchester  and Applied Research Collaboration Greater Manchester) to develop a mutually beneficial network that will:

  • Ensure health research awareness and routes to research participation reach local residents.
  • Develop key stakeholder relationships in areas of low participation.
  • Support community centres to improve their local offers, house PPIE focus groups and link into funding opportunities.
  • Further develop relationships between primary care facilities, community organisations and MCRF by offering patient involvement support and opportunities.

We have developed competencies and consciousness related to health inequalities across the constituencies of the Manchester CRF and the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (research, operational and public) and finalised our Inclusive Research e-learning (for staff and public) co-developed with members of Vocal’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Research Advisory Group (BRAG).