How can the NHS maximise its role as an anchor institution to boost local economies and reduce socioeconomic and health inequalities?

PROJECT STATUS: Not yet started

The NHS represents a substantial part of the economic activity in most areas by being a large employer and providing a source of local economic activity. This is what's known as an ‘anchor institution’.

NHS England & NHS Improvement (NHSEI) is exploring how providers can act more actively as anchors, using their economic power to reduce socioeconomic and health inequalities. There is little evidence on how providers can achieve these aims and further work is needed to identify mechanisms, facilitators and barriers for wider adoption across the NHS.  

Using data from all NHS Trusts across England, this project aims to identify activities by which providers can boost their local economy and reduce health inequalities, particularly around employment opportunities they provide for local people. Researchers will do this by:

  • Analysing the relationships between how much a provider spends and social, economic and health outcomes of the areas where they are located. 
  • Identifying local NHS areas with different trends in economic performance and different current practices for 3-4 in-depth case studies. These case studies will explore the underlying mechanisms by which providers can support local economies and identify barriers and facilitators.
  • Creating a predictive model of how providers can intervene to positively affect their local economy, presented as an interactive dashboard (a ‘model anchor-hospital’).

The work is led by University of Manchester and NIHR ARC Greater Manchester.

Partners & Collaborators

University of Manchester 

NIHR ARC Greater Manchester (ARC-GM)

Newcastle University

NIHR ARC North East and North Cumbria (ARC-NENC)

University of York

NIHR ARC Yorkshire and the Humber (ARC-YH)

University of Liverpool

NIHR ARC North West Coast (ARC-NWC)

University of Cambridge

NIHR ARC East of England (ARC-EoE)

University of Kent

NIHR ARC Kent, Surrey, and Sussex (ARC-KSS)

University College London (UCL)

NIHR ARC North Thames (ARC-NT)

Lead Investigator
Dame Nicky Cullum (Research Director, University of Manchester)
Matt Sutton (Deputy Director, University of Manchester, ARC-GM)
Investigating Team
Paul Wilson (University of Manchester, ARC-GM)
Clare Bambra (Newcastle University, ARC-NENC)
Jo Wildman ( (Newcastle University, ARC-NENC)
John Wildman ( (Newcastle University, ARC-NENC)
Jo Wildman (Heather Brown, ARC-NENC)
Kate Pickett (University of York, ARC-YH)
Ben Barr (University of Liverpool, ARC-NWC)
John Ford (University of Cambridge, ARC-EoE)
Lindsay Forbes (University of Kent, ARC-KSS)
Back to top