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UNFAIR project team launch new animation and blog about public views of health inequalities

Members of the public and researchers at Newcastle University have launched a new animation and blog about public views of health inequalities in a project funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and the Newcastle University Tilly Hale Award. Health inequalities are avoidable, unfair differences in health between different groups of people. Not only are some people living less healthy lives, but also dying earlier than they should be. The UNderstanding Factors that explain Avoidable hospital admission Inequalities (UNFAIR) study addresses how to reduce health inequalities, particularly for avoidable hospital admissions.

The project team spoke to people from different walks of life about what health inequalities mean to them. The key messages from these conversations are revealed in the 3-minute animation. Furthermore, Katie Clarke-Day, the co-production and lived experience lead at the Coalition for Personalised Care, opens up in the blog about her own experience of reducing avoidable hospital admissions and health inequalities.

Throughout this project, researchers used a collaborative and inclusive approach to work with members of the public in the planning and delivery of different workshops. Community groups and participants in under-served areas were invited to the workshops with local and national networks, such as the NIHR Research Design Service and Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health. A ‘hub and spoke’ model was used to host an online workshop open to anyone in England, as well as three local face-to-face workshops, one of which was led by members of the public. A diverse group of about 60 people took part.

In these workshops, participants talked about what the term ‘health inequalities’ means to them and how they feel about health inequalities. Participants shared their own experiences and their views of possible ways to reduce health inequalities. Working with Kaleidoscope CFA, a local film-making company, project members then produced an animation revealing the key messages of the workshops. Mrs. Rosemary Nicholls, a member of the public and co-lead on this project, said: “One of the key messages for me was that people are ready to freely contribute their views if they're treated with respect. They feel they have knowledge that's worth hearing.”

Additionally, Katie Clarke-Day tells the story of how she worked with professionals and support networks to reduce avoidable hospital visits after a life-changing diagnosis in the blog. This shows how personalised care can make a huge difference to someone's life. Katie describes how ‘privileges’, such as having money to get to hospital and having a full-time carer, enabled her to make significant changes to manage her condition and improve her quality of life. Without access to these 'privileges', her life would not have changed. She describes the importance of tackling health inequalities because having better health should not be about ‘privileges'.

The UNFAIR study is a solution-focused programme of research that puts members of the public at the front and centre of its design. The term ‘health inequalities’ can be complex, and difficult to communicate and understand. Four members of the public have been involved in the UNFAIR project since the start, encouraging the researchers to seek more diverse views, particularly from those who are at higher risk of health inequalities.

Dr Charlotte Parbery-Clark, researcher at Newcastle University and co-lead on this project, said: “Everyone we spoke to during this project wants more to be done about tackling health inequalities. As well as looking to the research and evidence, I believe really listening to our communities and working together are key to this.”

This project would not have been possible without the support from the UNFAIR Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) representatives, including co-lead Mrs Rosemary Nicholls, as well as Dr Joanne Lally, Dr Lorraine McSweeney, Dr Sarah Sowden, Dr Angela Wearn, Miss Amber Sacre, Greta Brunskill, Dr Jayne M. Jeffries, Edberts House, Leam Lane Community Association C.I.O., Skills4Work and everyone who participated in the workshops.

Special thanks to Katie Clarke-Day for sharing her story in the blog.

For more information about the project, please contact Dr Charlotte Parbery-Clark at For more information about UNFAIR, please contact Dr Sarah Sowden at

For any information about a wide range of issues such as money, housing and benefits, please contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau. For any information about any health concerns, please visit the NHS website or consider contacting your GP or 111. Samaritans also provide emotional support and a safe space to talk, and more information can be found by visiting the Samaritans website or calling for free on 116 123.

The views expressed in the blog and animation are those of the people who took part and not necessarily those of the NIHR, the Department of Health and Social Care or Newcastle University.