In response to the Government's Levelling Up White Paper, Professor Dame Anne Johnson PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences said:
“The Government rightly recognises the importance of addressing the health inequalities that have been exacerbated across the UK during the pandemic and, as part of this, the essential role that health research must play in regenerating the nation.
“The Academy urges the Government to ensure that its intended ‘Health Disparities’ White Paper is underpinned by a research-led and evidence-based approach, involving people and communities affected by health inequalities. This must include multidisciplinary approaches to understand the wide determinants of health, from biological through educational and environmental, to ensure that interventions have the best chance of reducing the gap in Healthy Life Expectancy.
“In the context of rising public investment in research and development, the promise to capitalise on research excellence across the UK by spending a greater proportion of these funds outside the Greater South East area is good news. However, this will only work effectively if investment is informed and driven by local expertise - organisations such as the life sciences clusters will be critical to directing these funds to existing and emerging excellence.
“Ultimately, achieving the dual aims of levelling-up and addressing health inequalities will require joined up approaches across national, regional and local geographies. Maximising the power of a wide range of health research disciplines to contribute to these agendas requires researchers across the country to be able to collaborate widely, be part of effective networks in their local communities and have access to adequate funding.
“As a national Academy we continue to work across all regions of the UK and will be establishing cross-sector regional hubs to connect health researchers locally, help them to build expertise to tackle local health needs and establish research collaborations that will address the health inequalities that are holding back our society.”