Centre for Access to Justice holds international workshop on Health Justice Partnerships

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Professor Dame Hazel Genn, Director of the UCL Centre for Access to Justice, chaired an international workshop on Health Justice Partnerships held in London on 9 November 2017.

The workshop was the first meeting of its kind to bring together experts in the field from across the globe. International speakers included Ellen Lawton, Co-Director of the US National Centre for Medical Legal Partnership, Tessa Boyd-Caine (CEO of Health Justice Australia) and David Rosenthal, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Yale School of Medicine. The keynote address was given by Professor Sir Malcolm Grant, Chairman of NHS England. The workshop was attended by a wide range of experts including policy officials, health professionals, commissioners, research funders and academics.

Health Justice Partnerships are collaborations between legal and health professionals in which access to free legal advice is provided in health settings. They aim to address legal needs that create and exacerbate mental and physical health problems, such as poverty, poor housing and insecure employment. Discussions addressed the role of Health Justice Partnerships in the UK, Australia and the United States, and their contribution to addressing underlying socio-legal causes of poor health. Particular focus was also given to advancing an evidence-based policy agenda for Health Justice Partnerships and their place in the current UK social prescribing landscape.

The workshop was funded by the Legal Education Foundation and a grant from the UCL Global Engagement Funds. It enabled leaders in the fields of both health and law to come together and share experience, discuss challenges and consider ways forward. The international involvement gave unique value to this event, providing insight to inform future directions for Health Justice Partnerships in the UK. The discussions will contribute to research and policy work being planned at UCL, including a scoping study to assess the feasibility of a UK national centre for Health Justice Partnerships. The connections established through this event are expected to drive further collaborations both across the country and abroad.

Ellen Lawton said:

‘We are living in a moment where the links between health and justice are crystallizing in really profound ways, creating significant opportunities for creative strategies that get to the root of the things that truly keep people from being as healthy as they can be.

It’s really energizing to see the momentum in the UK for bringing legal professionals into the health care team, and we’re excited that–along with our colleagues in Australia–we can be a resource to each other as we all seek to improve health and justice outcomes in our communities.’

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