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University of York recognised in UK’s Best Breakthroughs list

Posted on 6 December 2018

The University of York’s world-renowned Centre for Health Economics (CHE) is being celebrated for its transformational impact on the NHS and UK health policy.


CHE is a leading influence on UK health policy, helping to guide major spending and investment decisions across the NHS for decades.

CHE has been named as one of the UK’s 100 best breakthroughs for its significant impact on people’s everyday lives by making healthcare systems fairer and more effective.

The list was compiled by Universities UK, the umbrella group for UK universities, as part of the MadeAtUni campaign to change public perceptions of universities and bring to life the difference they make to people and communities across the UK.

Directed by Professor Maria Goddard, CHE is a leading influence on UK health policy, helping to guide major spending and investment decisions across the NHS for decades. It is also working with partners in low and middle income countries across the globe, helping shape the way society thinks about health and health care.

Fairer decisions

The Centre was founded in 1983 by the late Professor Alan Maynard. Over the last 35 years it has demonstrated the value of investing in health care and examined the economic case for drugs and treatments available for some of the most prevalent health conditions including cancer, asthma and heart disease.

The centre has also studied the effectiveness of public health policies targeting obesity, smoking and alcohol, examined waiting times, hospital efficiency, inequalities in healthcare outcomes and access to services and compared the costs and benefits of hundreds of surgical techniques and interventions.

Professor Maria Goddard said: “It is a fantastic achievement for CHE to be featured in the UK’s Best Breakthrough list. Decisions that affect people’s access to and experience of healthcare have been made throughout the history of the health service, but they are better and fairer decisions if based on objective evidence and research. This is what CHE provides.”

Gold standard measure

CHE developed the formula used for more than 20 years to allocate health resources equitably across England, a model which influenced the approach taken in countries such as Brazil and Finland.

CHE also developed the Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY), the gold standard measure of the quantity and quality of life, used by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). The World Health Organisation (WHO) uses variations of the QALY for planning health services around the globe.

In 2007, the Centre’s work was recognised in the Queen’s Anniversary Prize.

The UK’s Best Breakthroughs list demonstrates how UK universities are at the forefront of some of the world’s most important discoveries, innovations and social initiatives.

It follows independent research undertaken by Britain Thinks which found that the public has little understanding of the benefits of universities beyond undergraduate teaching. The findings show that research is one of the key triggers to change opinion about universities but for many people, it is an abstract concept.

Making a difference

Professor Dame Janet Beer, President of Universities UK, said: “Universities really do transform lives. The technology we use every day, the medicines that save lives, the teachers who inspire – all come from UK universities and the important work being done by academics.

“The UK’s Best Breakthroughs list is a testament to the difference that universities make to people’s lives and we want everyone to join us in celebrating the work they do.”

The UK’s Best Breakthroughs list: 100+ Ways Universities Have Improved Everyday Life was put together in partnership with universities across the UK. As part of the MadeAtUni campaign, every university in the country was invited to nominate the one thing from their institution which they believe has had the biggest impact on people, lives or communities. Universities across the UK submitted nominations. The entries cover health, technology, environment, family, community, and culture and sport.

You can find out more about the UK’s Best Breakthroughs and the MadeAtUni campaign here.