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Bradford professor heads up University of Oxford research centre for equality


Prof Mahendra Patel

A Bradford professor is leading a new research facility at the University of Oxford to help tackle disparities in access to healthcare research and clinical trials.

Professor Mahendra Patel OBE, who was recently awarded an honorary degree from the University of Bradford, is also a founding member of the historic Centre for Research Equity (CfRE).

Working with the University of Oxford, the centre aims to support inclusive community engagement, involvement and participation in healthcare research by reaching out to people from ethnically diverse and lower socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as people living with disabilities.

The work hopes to ensure healthcare inequalities are addressed by bringing in greater representation from previously under-represented communities in the UK, to make research more accessible and the evidence to be more reliable.

Professor Patel said: “This is culminated from the work of our national priority clinical trials that we were carrying out in the search for early treatment of Covid 19 during the pandemic.

“We saw  people from South Asian and black backgrounds were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and we wanted to ensure the trials were widely visible and accessible to all such that recruitment into the trials was representative of our national diaspora.

“Research shows that traditionally people from ethnic minority backgrounds engage in research at a lower level, which leads to poor representation and potentially weaker evidence in terms of effectiveness.

“In the Covid trials, the Panoramic trial became the world’s fastest and largest recruiting clinical trial in primary care with one of its many key learnings was how our inclusion diversity strategy led to a highly successful and significant difference in the representation of diverse and under-represented communities UK-wide.”

The research centre is working with partners and stakeholders from all sectors including community and faith organisations. It is uniquely positioned to help support more inclusive research and to develop a stronger and more reliable evidence base to improve health outcomes and reduce health inequalities.

It will build a delivery network and is looking at strategic models that are being used across the country to reach specific populations and groups, and how it can help support them. It will be curating a repository of exemplar case studies with innovative approaches and a variety of information resources to promote widely and ultimately improve health equity.

The Centre is multi-collaborative in its approach with a ‘hub and spoke’ model extended to various parts of the UK to ultimately improve health equity and help close the gap in disparities faced by people from diverse backgrounds in healthcare.