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The REAL centre logo

Oxford Population Health has been selected by the Health Foundation, an independent charity, to be part of its new REAL Research Units programme. The programme involves the setting up of two new research units, one based in Oxford Population Health, that will design and deliver research programmes aimed at improving the quality of decision making in health and social care.

The Oxford research unit will transform the understanding of demand for health and social care, using individual-level data to analyse how socioeconomic and environmental factors affect health. The team will receive £3.725m of funding over seven years to set up and run their unit. 

Professor Philip Clarke, Director of Oxford Population Health’s Health Economics Research Centre, and Director for the Oxford unit, said ‘We are delighted to be part of the ambitious REAL Research Units programme and are looking forward to working in collaboration with the REAL Centre to develop evidence to address the long-standing challenges facing the health and care system, and to transform the understanding of demand for health and care in England.’

Professor Sasha Shepperd, lead for Oxford Population Health’s Health Services Research Unit, and deputy Director added ‘Demand for health and social care in the UK continues to grow year-on-year, but our understanding of how to manage this demand is limited, restricting effective long-term policy planning and action. This new unit will enable us to identify the drivers of demand for health and social care, the distribution of demand, the economics of demand, and mechanisms for dealing with uncertainty.’

The unit’s work will be delivered in collaboration with the Department of Economics, the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, and the Centre for Experimental Social Sciences at the University of Oxford, and the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York. Public representatives will be involved throughout the project. 

The Health Foundation’s REAL Centre (Research and Economic Analysis for the Long term) provides independent analysis and research to support better long-term decision making in health and social care. Its aim is to help health and social care leaders and policymakers look beyond the short term to understand the implications of their decisions around issues such as funding, investment and training over the next 10–15 years.

The REAL Research Units programme aims to develop leadership, advocacy and learning which will build consensus and develop the infrastructure needed to influence longer-term approaches to policy and funding decisions. The other unit will focus on supply of health and social care.

Anita Charlesworth, Director of the REAL Centre, said ‘The setting up of the REAL Research Units is a unique opportunity to build both the research capacity and critical mass needed to deliver on the REAL Centre’s ambitions to improve the quality of decision making in health and social care. The units will be integral to the work of the REAL Centre, enabling collaboration, partnerships and knowledge mobilisation which will translate our work into impact.’