Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


Sarah Beardon

Sarah Beardon picture

My PhD Title: Implementation of Health Justice Partnerships: social welfare legal services in healthcare settings

Supervisor: Professor Rosalind Raine, Professor Dame Hazel Genn, Doctor Charlotte Woodhead, Doctor Silvie Cooper

Lay summary:

Social welfare legal problems include issues with welfare benefits, debt, housing, family and employment. These circumstances can be harmful to physical and mental health, and people in poor health are more likely to experience them. Partnerships between healthcare and legal services aim to improve access to legal support for people in need and address underlying social and economic causes of ill health.

Many different models of health-justice partnership exist across England and Wales. Studies have explored the potential impacts of these services, however there is currently little research on implementation to guide service delivery in practice. This research explores different delivery models, investigates how collaborative working between health and legal teams can be facilitated, and how the partnerships can be sustained over time.

My Background

Before starting my PhD, I worked as a Research Associate at the UCL Centre for Access to Justice, researching the impacts of social welfare legal advice delivered in general practice. Through this work, I saw the fundamental role of legal assistance in supporting the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people, which still inspires me in my current research. I also became interested in international examples of health-justice partnerships and the different approaches being taken across the UK. This broad perspective and interdisciplinary nature of the subject is one of the most appealing aspects of the project for me.


Master of Public Health (MPH), Imperial College London
Bachelor of Science (BSc Biology), Durham University


Gopal, D., Beardon, S., Caraher, M., Woodhead, C. & Taylor, S. (2021) Should we screen for poverty in primary care? British Journal of General Practice, 71 (711): 468-469

Genn, H. & Beardon, S (2021) Law for Health: Using free legal services to tackle the social determinants of health. University College London.

Byrom, N. & Beardon, S. (2021) Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on tribunals – The experience of tribunal judges. Tribunals Judiciary & The Legal Education Foundation.

Beardon, S., Woodhead, C., Cooper, S., Ingram, E., Genn, H. & Raine, R. (2021) International Evidence on the Impact of Health-Justice Partnerships: A Systematic Scoping Review. Public Health Reviews, 42:1603976.

Beardon, S., Woodhead, C., Cooper, S., Raine, R. & Genn, H. (2020) Health-justice partnerships: innovation in service delivery to support mental health. Journal of Public Mental Health. 4: 327-332.

Byrom, N., Beardon, S. & Kendrick, A. The impacts of COVID-19 measures on the civil justice system. Civil Justice Council & The Legal Education Foundation.

Beardon, S. & Genn, H. (2018) The Health Justice Landscape in England & Wales: Social welfare legal services in health settings. UCL Centre for Access to Justice. ISBN: 978-1-5272-2783-5.

Beardon et al. 2018. Informal carers’ perspectives on the delivery of acute hospital care for patients with dementia: a systematic review. BMC Geriatrics Jan 25; 18(1):23

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