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Organisations delivering health research in higher education, local government, the NHS, the private sector and voluntary sector will take part in a three-month reflective assessment of their delivery of race equality in health research led by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

From August to December 2021, sixteen organisations will trial a new framework to assess how their current policies, practices and organisational culture could be changed to better serve diverse communities, foster improved race relations 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.

Inspired by the public who have lived experiences of challenges we are trying to address, the Race Equality self assessment framework was developed by the NIHR Race Equality Public Action Group (REPAG), which is co-chaired and led by public members. The group engaged a range of researchers, leaders and public involvement leads, to develop the framework. REPAG then held three online public consultation events to refine the framework, each attended, led and facilitated by Black, African, Asian and Caribbean heritage people.

Dr Pavel Ovseiko, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, who coordinates the pilot in Oxford, said: “I am proud that many organisations representing the NIHR research infrastructure in Oxford have come together and joined their considerable expertise in this important pilot. The Race Equality Framework will guide us on the steps we can take to ensure that all the public and taxpayers, who support and fund the NIHR, benefit from the NIHR research regardless of their race, ethnicity, and cultural heritage.”

Jeremy Taylor, NIHR Director for Public Voice and Director of the NIHR Centre for Engagement and Dissemination (CED), which is leading on this initiative, said: "I am very excited that we have reached the stage of testing out our Race Equality Framework. This will be an important tool in creating a more inclusive research culture."

The pilot will help develop NIHR’s work to address current inequities in research, including 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 particular issue being researched. This means that health research frequently does not meet the needs of the whole population, which in turn distorts healthcare delivery.

Professor Krysia Dziedzic, NIHR Senior Investigator and Director of the Impact Accelerator Unit, School of Medicine, Keele University, and host of one of the pilots said: "The framework is inspired by the voices of people from Black and African, Asian and Caribbean heritage. Through this framework, the Race Equality Public Action Group (REPAG) has set out achievable ambitions for NIHR research and its implementation. Working with REPAG, Midlands Innovation Health, Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent AHP Council, Keele has secured funding for an Ambassador with lived experience of race inequality to co-produce and implement our pilot. This is just the start.”

Christine McGrath, Director of R&D, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our involvement in this pilot is incredibly timely and important to our wider efforts to increase equity across our research. Through the pilot we hope to generate learning that enables us, NIHR and the NIHR infrastructure to advance this agenda in partnership with our academic and NHS partners.”

Read more on the NIHR website. 

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