Leeds Beckett University leads new NHS research project to investigate the use of health inequalities funding

Leeds Beckett University has joined forces with the NHS Confederation, Clarity and the Care Quality Commission for a project aiming to investigate the use of health inequalities funding.

The project aims to understand how Integrated Care Systems (ICS) nationwide have made use of funding targeted to address health inequalities.

Led by Professor Mark Gamsu and Professor Anne-Marie Bagnall at Leeds Beckett University, the project has been spearheaded by the NHS Confederation’s ICS Network health inequalities reference group. It aims to share examples of good practice across the network and allow groups to learn from each other about how to make best use of funding made available for the benefit of local communities.

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Professor Gamsu said: “Each year, £200 million is made available by the NHS and divided among the 43 ICSs in England to strengthen action to tackle inequalities across integrated care systems. This is recurrent funding with quite broad criteria for how it is used - so is a fantastic opportunity to develop strategic levers for system change.

Leeds Beckett University's Headingley Campus.Leeds Beckett University's Headingley Campus.
Leeds Beckett University's Headingley Campus.

“In 2021/22 this funding was specifically ring-fenced to be spent on health inequalities. In subsequent years, it is not ring-fenced - and in a climate where the NHS is under tremendous pressure in terms of demand and funding, it will be particularly important that this funding is still available to support work on addressing health inequalities.”

The Leeds Beckett team will interview health inequalities leads in Integrated Care Boards (ICB), as well as other senior system leaders. The research will focus on how behavioural and cultural factors affected how this funding was used.

Leeds Beckett University’s research will be used in conjunction with healthcare change consultants Clarity, as well as the Care Quality Commission, to create a report and a toolkit. This will contain practical guidance for ICBs on how to overcome barriers to invest in impactful action on health inequalities.

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Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “Integrated Care Systems will play a key role in tackling health inequalities and supporting communities to live long, healthy lives. I encourage system leaders and health inequalities leads to seize the opportunity to participate in this project, which will support healthcare leaders to adopt best practice and turn the tide on health inequalities.”