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University of York to lead a REAL Research Unit with an ambitious programme of research on health and social care

Posted on 1 March 2023

The Centre for Health Economics (CHE) at the University of York has been selected to lead a major research programme aimed at improving the quality of decision-making in health and social care.

The team of the REAL Supply Research Unit. From left to right: Sarah Birch (Kent), Nils Gutacker (CHE), Susan Griffin (CHE), Dave Bell (SPRE), Diane Skatun (Aberdeen), Florin Vadean (Kent), Julien Forder (Kent)

The team from CHE will receive more than £3.7m over seven years from independent charity, The Health Foundation to set up the REAL Research Units programme

Working in collaboration with researchers from the universities of Kent, Aberdeen and the Scottish Policy Research Exchange, the unit will develop and deliver an ambitious economic research programme focused on the supply of health and social care in England and aim to improve the resilience, sustainability and equity of care provision. 

Tackle problems

Nils Gutacker, Professor of Health Economics at the University of York and co-lead for the supply Research Unit, said: “We need to think ahead and tackle problems before they disrupt the supply of health and care. This requires us to think more strategically. 

“Becoming a REAL Research Unit will offer a rare opportunity to engage with a wide range of stakeholders and co-develop an ambitious economic research agenda focused on health and care supply – with tangible outcomes that will have a real influence on how policymakers think about the future.” 

Susan Griffin, Professor of Health Economics, at the University of York and co-lead for the supply Research Unit, said: “The REAL Research Unit represents an ambition to combine the focus and efforts of people across health and social care in order to transform how the long-term outlook is reflected in decisions.”


The REAL Research Units programme aims to develop leadership, advocacy and learning which will build consensus and develop the infrastructure needed to influence longer-term approaches to policy and funding decisions.

The Health Foundation’s REAL Centre (Research and Economic Analysis for the Long term) provides independent analysis and research to support better long-term decision making in health and social care. Its aim is to help health and social care leaders and policymakers look beyond the short term to understand the implications of their decisions around issues such as funding, investment and training over the next 10–15 years.

Unique opportunity

Anita Charlesworth, Director of the REAL Centre, said: “The setting up of the REAL Research Units is a unique opportunity to build both the research capacity and critical mass needed to deliver on the REAL Centre’s ambitions to improve the quality of decision making in health and social care. 

“The units will be integral to the work of the REAL Centre, enabling collaboration, partnerships and knowledge mobilisation which will translate our work into impact.”

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