News story

New institute to help narrow the health gap

A new University College London (UCL) Institute that aims to reduce health inequalities through action on social determinants was launched today…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A new University College London (UCL) Institute that aims to reduce health inequalities through action on social determinants was launched today.

The UCL Institute of Health Equity, which will be led by Professor Sir Michael Marmot, will receive £1 million funding from the Department of Health over the next three years to take forward action that will reduce health inequalities in England.

The Institute, which will be independent, will also be supported by UCL, the British Medical Association and independently commissioned projects.

The work of the UCL Institute of Health Equity

The UCL Institute of Health Equity will collect the latest evidence, provide expert advice and share best practice both locally and internationally. It will build on previous world-renowned research and reviews led by Professor Marmot such as The Whitehall Study and the Fair Society, Healthy Lives review, which underpinned the recent Public Health White Paper.

The Institute has already started to help a number of local organisations take action on the social determinants of health to reduce health inequalities. It will ensure England remains at the forefront of international action and provide vital guidance and support to local organisations during the transition to Public Health England and the new NHS.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

“A stark picture has emerged in this country over the past 20 years of a growing divide in the health outcomes between rich and poor.

“For example, men living in Blackpool can expect to live on average 11.5 years less than men living in Kensington and Chelsea.

“The Public Health White Paper already incorporates a social determinants approach as we are creating a new public health system that will improve people’s health and well-being and reduce the health inequalities that exist across the country.

“The new Institute of Health Equity will provide invaluable advice and support for local organisations and health professionals during the transition to this fairer system.

“Health inequalities cannot be transformed overnight but the work of Sir Michael Marmot and his team should help turn evidence into action and help improve the health of their local communities.”

Professor Sir Michael Marmot

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, who chaired the World Health Organization (WHO) Commission on Social Determinants of Health (published 2008) and is currently chairing a WHO commissioned Review on the Social Determinants of Health and the Health Divide in the European Region, said:

“Closing the Gap in a Generation’ and Fair Society, Healthy Lives set out a vision to empower people to have control over their lives. I am delighted to see work to tackle health inequalities integrated into the Government’s plans for public health.

“The UCL Institute of Health Equity has a global remit to ensure population health is improved and health inequities are reduced within and between countries, through action on the social determinants of health.

“To enable individuals to be in control of their own lives action is needed on the social circumstances in which we are born, grow, live, work and age.”

Read the press release

Published 21 November 2011