MFT one of 13 national organisations recruited to promote race equality in health research

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) is one of 13 organisations opening themselves up to a three-month reflective assessment of their delivery of race equality in health research.

Led by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), MFT will help develop the NIHR’s work to address current inequities in research. This includes the fact that the ethnic diversity of those who participate in clinical research often does not reflect that of the wider population affected by the issue being researched. This means that health research frequently does not meet the needs of the whole population, which in turn distorts healthcare delivery.

From August to December 2021, the organisations that deliver health research in the NHS, higher education, local government, and the private and voluntary sectors will pilot a new framework developed by the NIHR Race Equality Public Action Group (REPAG). The framework will assess how their current policies, practices and organisational culture could be changed to better serve diverse communities and ultimately improve healthcare delivery. This is ahead of a wider rollout of the final framework in spring 2022, which all research organisations will be encouraged to adopt.

Dr Bella Starling, Director of Vocal, a not-for-profit organisation, hosted by MFT, and Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) lead for the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), said: “We are acutely aware that health research presents barriers to inclusion and hasn’t always created and promoted environments where everyone feels treated with dignity and respect.

Dr Starling, who is also PPIE lead for the NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility (CRF), continued:

We welcome the important opportunity to partner in the development of NIHR’s Race Equality Framework, underlining our commitment to taking deliberate action to meet the health research needs of all people. Through our involvement, we ultimately aim to improve health and research equity for people who have been excluded or marginalised by health research.

Dr Iain McLean, Managing Director for Research and Innovation at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), said: “Our role in piloting NIHR’s Race Equality Framework underlines how we value the diversity of our workforce and our region’s communities.

It shows our commitment to always improve our focus in tackling inequality and maximising inclusion for all our patients and workforce. Through this framework, REPAG has set out achievable ambitions for NIHR research and its implementation.

I’m proud that MFT is part of this, and that we are contributing to advancing equality, diversity and inclusion in the UK’s health research.