Landmark partnership between Northern Ireland and Oxford University launches | National Health Executive

In a ground-breaking new collaboration, the University of Oxford is partnering with Northern Ireland in a move that will see improved health outcomes, reduced disparities, and research that reflects the needs of the population.

The partnership is specifically between the Nuffield Department for Primary Care Health Sciences’ Centre for Research Equity (CfRE) and Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (HSC R&D). The collaboration is being supported by Northern Ireland’s Department of Health.

A step forward

“This new partnership between our HSC R&D and Oxford University represents a significant step forward in efforts to address health inequalities in Northern Ireland,” said Mike Nesbitt, health minister in Northern Ireland.

“By bringing together leading experts and resources from across sectors, we can work towards conducting research that truly benefits all of our communities.”

The programme will build on learnings and relationships forged during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Northern Ireland’s chief pharmaceutical officer, Professor Cathy Harrison.

“We are committed to developing new collaborative approaches that will ensure that research reaches and includes diverse populations, including those who have been historically underrepresented or faced barriers to accessing research opportunities,” she said.

Chief scientific advisor at the Northern Ireland Department of Health, Professor Ian Young, explained: “This historic partnership unites various sectors in Northern Ireland — from health and social care, academia, industry, and the voluntary sector — to leverage our collective strengths.

“By working together, we aim to advance research equity and address health disparities highlighted by recent challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Just the start

Northern Ireland is the first of the devolved nations to officially link with CfRE, although Oxford University hopes it will not be the last — health leaders intend to set up multiple ‘hubs’ across the UK.

The university also emphasises that this partnership with Northern Ireland is not a one-time thing and will instead represent a long-term commitment to advancing research equity and improving health outcomes, according to pro-vice chancellor, Professor Richard Hobbs.

He said: “By building a strong foundation of collaboration and community engagement, we aim to create lasting change.”

This will start with a patient-focused approach, ensuring all relevant stakeholders are engaged with.

Director at CfRE, Professor Mahendra Patel, added: “At the heart of this ground-breaking partnership between Oxford University and Northern Ireland is a dedication to involving patients, the public, underserved communities, as well as health and care organisations and stakeholders in setting research priorities.

“We want to ensure that research outcomes are applicable, safe and beneficial to all, and that starts with listening to and engaging with the very people we serve, including those who are often disproportionately affected by poorer health and health outcomes.”

Image credit: iStock

Latest news
Related news