UCLH to assess race equality in its health research

UCLH is carrying out a three-month assessment of its delivery of race equality in health research as part of a project led by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).

From August to December 2021, UCLH will trial a new framework to look at how current policies, practices and organisational culture could be changed to better serve diverse communities, foster improved race relations and ultimately improve healthcare delivery.

The wider rollout of the final framework is due to happen in 2022, which all research organisations will be encouraged to adopt.

Inspired by the public who have lived experiences of challenges the scheme is seeking 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.

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, which in turn distorts healthcare delivery.

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 REPAG was established in 2020. Hosted by the NIHR Centre for Engagement and Dissemination, the group aims to give people from ethnic minority communities a stronger voice in shaping priorities for research, the design and delivery of research, the recruitment of volunteers into studies, and the mobilisation of evidence into practice.

The group is part of NIHR’s broader efforts to improve equality, diversity and inclusion in health and social care research. It reflects recognition, highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic, that ethnic minority communities most affected by ill-health are also among the most under-represented voices influencing the research agenda.