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Health research project aims to improve lives

Health and wellbeing

Monday, 29 April 2024
Mayor Chris Cooke speaks at the launch event

Improved quality of life across Teesside is the key aim of a ground-breaking new partnership launched this week.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research Health Determinants Research Collaboration (HDRC) South Tees will focus on addressing the area’s inequalities and the factors that impact negatively on health and life-expectancy through robust research and evidence-based practice.

Working in partnership with Teesside University, Public Health South Tees – covering the Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland local authorities – the HDRC will embed a positive research culture across the area.

Links between academics and local authority specialists will be established, helping local authority specialists develop their research skills and conduct their own studies.

The HDRC – funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) - is one of 30 across the country helping local authorities become more research-active and adopt a culture of evidence-based decision-making.

It is hoped the approach will reduce inequalities and address the wider determinants of health such as the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age.

Jan Lecouturier, Head of Knowledge and Innovation with Public Health South Tees, said: “I am delighted and feel privileged to be able to play a part in the HDRC and the impact it will have. 

“This is a fantastic opportunity which brings together our Public Health excellence, research skills and the Councils’ enthusiasm for positive action.

“I can clearly see that the HDRC will make a real difference to the lives of people of all ages and communities in Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland.”

Launch events in both Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland brought together the local authorities, Teesside University and a range of external partners, with keynote speakers including Joint Director of Public Health for South Tees Mark Adams.

An interactive marketplace showcased the missions and objectives of the HDRC, with case studies and a chance for attendees to suggest research topics.

Special guests included local historian Steve Waller whose remarkable scale model of Middlesbrough’s historic ‘over the border’ area of St Hilda’s has enthralled local audiences.

Mark Adams, Joint Director of Public Health for South Tees, said: “The HDRC gives us a real opportunity to build our capability to understand critical issues that affect wellbeing in our local context across Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland. 

“For the first time we will be able to determine features of wellbeing in our communities that we can identify but can’t fully explain and draw in research funding and capability to build our understanding that in turn will support our planning and decision-making.”

Welcoming the HDRC launch, Middlesbrough Mayor Chris Cooke said: “Robust public health and improved life expectancy are crucial if our communities are to make the most of the undoubted opportunities that lie ahead.

“Meaningful, focused research is vital if we are to turn the tide on generations of inequality, and ensure we are on a level playing field with traditionally more affluent parts of the country. Real investment in health in our area and is long overdue.

“The HDRC will help to establish South Tees as an international beacon for research and innovation, with benefits to be felt for many decades to come.”

Councillor Ursula Earl, Cabinet Member for Health, Welfare and Housing at Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, said: “It is crucial that we maximise this opportunity to embed a first-class research programme in Redcar & Cleveland to understand the health inequalities and problems we face right here in the South Tees area.

“The research and health collaborative will provide the knowledge needed to develop evidence-based practice to improve health outcomes.

“It will benefit people in all our communities for many years to come, especially those living in areas which need much better health outcomes.”

For more information on public health issues across the South Tees area, visit HDRCSouthTees.

Scott Lloyd, Mayor Chris Cooke, Director of Public Health Mark Adams, Jan Lecouturier, Head of Knowledge and Innovation and Dorothy Newbury-Birch, Professor of Social Justice and Public Policy