UCL Faculty of Laws


Prof Dame Hazel Genn delivers workshops on health justice & developing health justice evidence base

19 February 2020

The two workshops involved key policy players and focused on policy impact in the context of health justice partnerships.

Prof Dame Hazel Genn delivers workshops on health justice & developing health justice evidence base

Professor Dame Hazel Genn, Professor of Socio-Legal Studies at UCL Laws and Director of the National Strategy for Health Justice Partnership, delivered two workshops last week on health justice.

On 11th February, the Health Justice Workshop took place in London and was organised in collaboration with The British Academy and The Wellcome Trust. The Workshop is part of a new series of workshops commissioned by Wellcome and the British Academy, to explore the future relationship between health policy concerns and research in the humanities and social sciences.

Prof Dame Hazel Genn delivers workshops on health justice & developing health justice evidence base
Key policy players and thought leaders in the field of health justice spoke at the invitation-only workshop which focused on “the role of law and legal services in mitigating health inequalities”. The Health Justice Workshop brought together researchers, policymakers, members of the judiciary, practitioners and research funders to explore how law, social sciences and the humanities can contribute to health policy.

Professor Genn delivered the welcome and introductory comments with Professor Dame Anne Johnson (Chair of UK Committee for Strategic Coordination of Health of the Public Research). Professor Chris Whitty (Chief Medical Officer for England) who was participating in the opening session was unfortunately called away at the last minute to deal with a Ministerial meeting on Coronavirus.

The introductions were followed by a discussion on population level legal frameworks, focusing on the role of legislation in creating and mitigating health inequalities. The first panel featured The Rt Hon Sir Brian Leveson (former President of Queen’s Bench Division and Head of Criminal Justice) on the intersection between the criminal justice system, penal policy and health; Christine Brown of the World Health Organization on legal frameworks and data supporting health equity; and Natalie Byrom of The Legal Education Foundation on the health impacts of welfare reform and the role of legal epidemiology.  The second panel discussion covered local level implementation and initiatives involving Local Government decision-making, health service innovation linked to justice system issues including violent crime, and the experience of Health Impact Assessments in Wales. The final panel concentrated on Individual and community level remedies, covering the experience of grass roots integration of health and social welfare legal services in the UK, US and Australia.  Discussion included NHS England’s development of social prescribing and the Ministry of Justice’s interest in co-locating legal services with health and other services to address access to justice and benefit health and well-being.

Each panel was followed by lively, broad ranging discussions concerning the need in the health policy field to increase understanding of the links between law and health at macro, meso and individual level, to develop a broad-ranging health justice policy and research agenda, and to better develop cross-disciplinary research capacity and academic careers that bridge law and health.

Professor Genn also Organized and Co-Chaired a workshop on Developing the Health Justice Evidence Base, which took place on 13th February in London. The workshop was funded by The Legal Education Foundation under Professor Genn’s National Health Justice Partnership Strategy award, and focused on strengthening the health justice evidence base through transdisciplinary research and methodological innovation.

Professor Genn and Dr Natalie Byrom (Director of Research at The Legal Education Foundation), welcomed attendees to the event and outlined the objectives for the day – to learn more about approaches to Health Justice Partnership and how best to identify the added value of such partnerships; to clarify the intended objectives and beneficiaries of such partnership; to better articulate the range of potential outcomes; and to gauge interest and value in international collaboration as we develop outcome frameworks and research agendas in the context of policy, practice and academic needs and priorities.

The workshop involved talks about Health Justice Partnership with speakers from Health Justice Australia and the US National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, as well as Scotland and England.

Developing the Health Justice Evidence Base Workshop
The workshop concluded with a session reflecting on the main learnings from the day and the next steps, before ending with a working dinner. A key action point from the workshop was enthusiastic support for establishing a Health Justice Commission with wide and international participation that could develop recommendations in relation to, for example, consistent evaluation frameworks and core measures; minimum requirements for data collection and processes for data sharing; and developing protocols that would be helpful to service providers. Professor Genn will be taking forward this recommendation with support from international collaborators.

In collaboration with The Legal Education Foundation, Professor Genn has been working closely with NHS England’s Social Prescribing Strategy, the Mayor of London’s Health Inequalities Strategy, the Ministry of Justice Legal Support team, research funders and a range of service providers across the UK in beginning to develop a national health justice partnership strategy. An initial step was the publication with Sarah Beardon of ‘The Health Justice Landscape in England & Wales’, which describes the current provision of social welfare legal services in healthcare settings across England and Wales, and was one of the preliminary reading materials circulated to participants prior to the workshop. A list of the full background materials for the workshop can be accessed here.

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