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About the REAL Centre 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.

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What is the REAL Centre?

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 funding and resourcing decisions over the next 10-15 years. The Centre will work in partnership with leading experts and academics to research and model the future demand for care, and the workforce and other resources needed to respond. The Centre supports the Health Foundation's aim to create a more sustainable health and care system that better meets people’s needs now and in the future.

Meet the team

Our in-house team holds significant expertise in economics, analysis and research, including experience in:

  • understanding and analysing the structure, funding and workforce arrangements for UK health and social care systems
  • using health and care datasets.

The team will work closely with others at the Health Foundation and draw on wider expertise in related areas, such as the social determinants of health.

Meet the oversight board

The REAL Centre is overseen by an oversight board, chaired by Sir Andrew Dilnot, that provides advice, challenge and assurance that it is operating in line with its principles of impartiality, objectivity, openness and transparency.

Andrew Dilnot is Warden of Nuffield College Oxford and Chair of the Geospatial Commission.  He was Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority from 2012 to 2017, and was the Chairman of the Commission on the Funding of Care and Support, which reported in 2011.  He was Principal of St Hugh’s College, Oxford, from 2002 to 2012 and a Pro Vice Chancellor of Oxford University from 2005 to 2012. He was Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies from 1991 to 2002. He was the founding presenter of BBC Radio 4’s series on the beauty of numbers, ‘More or Less’ and has presented two series of programmes on Radio 4 ‘A History of Britain in Numbers’.

Andrew has served on the Social Security Advisory Committee, the National Consumer Council, the Councils of the Royal Economic Society and Queen Mary and Westfield College, as a trustee of the Nuffield Foundation, and as chairman of the Statistics Users Forum of the Royal Statistical Society.  He holds Honorary Doctorates from City University and The Open University, and a City and Guilds Fellowship.  He was given an Honorary Fellowship by the British Academy in July 2018. 

Andrew Dilnot

Jim joined the Health Foundation in 2017 as a Senior Visiting Fellow.

Jim has worked extensively as a policymaker, policy analyst, and consultant on health workforce and health systems issues in Europe, Asia and the Pacific. At the Health Foundation, he contributes to the policy analysis work on the health workforce.

His background includes periods as National Senior Manager in the National Health Service in Scotland, Senior Policy Analyst at the Royal College of Nursing, Specialist Adviser to the federal government agency Health Workforce Australia, and Senior Adviser (Human Resources for Health) for the European Region of the World Health Organization (WHO). He is currently affiliated with the WHO Collaborating Centre on Health Workforce Planning at the Universidad Nuovo, Lisbon, Portugal, and the WHO Collaborating Centre at University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Australia.

Jim continues to work on a range of health workforce policy projects in Europe and Asia for organisations such as WHO and the World Bank.  

He is a member of the national Workforce Planning Group, Scottish Government, and is Editor in Chief of the Human Resources for Health journal. 

Jim Buchan, Senior Visitng Fellow

Michael Chernew, PhD, is the Leonard D. Schaeffer Professor of Health Care Policy and the Director of the Healthcare Markets and Regulation (HMR) Lab in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Chernew’s research examines several areas related to improving the health care system including studies of novel benefit designs, Medicare Advantage, alternative payment models, low value care and the causes and consequences of rising health care spending.   

Dr. Chernew is currently serving as the Chair of Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) while previously serving as the Vice Chair from 2012-2014 and a Member from 2008-2012. In 2000, 2004 and 2010, he served on technical advisory panels for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that reviewed the assumptions used by Medicare actuaries to assess the financial status of Medicare trust funds.  He is a member of the Congressional Budget Office’s Panel of Health Advisors and Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Health Connector Board. Dr. Chernew is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a senior Visiting Fellow at MITRE. He is currently a co-editor of the American Journal of Managed Care.

Dr. Chernew earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his PhD in economics from Stanford University. In 1998, he was awarded the John D. Thompson Prize for Young Investigators by the Association of University Programs in Public Health. In 1999, he received the Alice S. Hersh Young Investigator Award from the Association of Health Services Research

Michael Chernew

Dr Jennifer Dixon joined the Health Foundation as Chief Executive in October 2013.

Jennifer was Chief Executive of the Nuffield Trust from 2008 to 2013. Prior to this, she was Director of Policy at The King’s Fund and was the policy advisor to the Chief Executive of the National Health Service between 1998 and 2000. Jennifer has undertaken research and written widely on health care reform both in the UK and internationally.

Originally trained in medicine, Jennifer practised mainly paediatric medicine, prior to a career in policy analysis. She has a Master’s in public health and a PhD in health services research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 1990–91, Jennifer was a Harkness Fellow in New York.

Jennifer has served as a Board member on several national regulatory bodies: the Health Care Commission 2004–2009; the Audit Commission 2003–2012; and the Care Quality Commission 2013–2016. She has led two national inquiries for government: on the setting up of published ratings of quality of NHS and social care providers in England (2013); and on the setting up of ratings for general practices (2015). She was also a member of the Parliamentary Review Panel for the Welsh Assembly Government advising on the future strategy for the NHS and social care in Wales (2017–2018).

In 2009, Jennifer was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, and in 2019 was elected as a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. She was awarded a CBE for services to public health in 2013, and a Doctor of Science from Bristol University in 2016. She has held visiting professorships at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the London School of Economics, and Imperial College Business School.

Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive of the Health Foundation

Raj is Chief Executive of the Northern Care Alliance (NCA) which comprises the Care Organisations for Salford Royal, Rochdale and Bury, and Royal Oldham. The NCA has a turnover of £1.3bn, 19,000 staff and is a specialist, general and integrated (health & social care) provider in the northern part of Greater Manchester. 

Previously Raj was Chief of Strategy & OD / Deputy CEO of the NCA and in this role he led the development of the corporate strategy for Salford Royal. Previous to this role, Raj was Managing Director of Greater Manchester AHSN. This organisation was created to support citizens, health organisations, companies and Higher Education to improve health and economic wealth through the spread of innovation at pace and scale. Raj has also been Chief Executive of an NHS FT that achieved Hospital of the year in 2012 and has held senior roles in Teaching and District General Hospitals. 

Raj spent the early part of his career in the oil and gas industry.  He is an economist by training and was a HR & OD professional. Raj has been a director of two research organisations and has held regional and national leadership positions in development and planning. He is currently on the North Regional Talent Board.  Raj is currently a director of a tech company and also a board member of the REAL Oversight Board, a Health Foundation funded enterprise that seeks to influence health and social care policy.

Raj was born in the UK, and has Punjabi Indian parents who emigrated to the UK in the 1950s. He is passionate about inequalities, works with bodies inside and outside of the NHS to address issues and works to embed fairness in the organisations he leads.

Raj Jain

Branwen Jeffreys is the Education Editor for BBC News. She reports on the policy and politics of schools, colleges and universities as well as broader issues effecting children and family life. In more than two decades as a journalist and broadcaster she has specialised in social and public policy.

Before taking up her most recent role in 2015 she spent 11 years covering the politics of the NHS, patient experience of health services and research developments in healthcare. In 2008 she presented a series of live debate programmes for BBC Radio 4 to mark the 60th anniversary of the NHS. The programmes looked at the challenges facing the health system from long term trends in public health and an ageing population.

Branwen has broadcast from around the world for the BBC, presented programmes and devised multi media projects. She has a strong interest in evidence-based policy, and how people experience using public services.

Branwen Jeffries, Health Foundation governor

Ashwin Kumar is Professor of Social Policy in the Policy Evaluation Research Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). He specialises in analysis and modelling of poverty, incomes, the labour market, low pay and wealth.

Prior to joining MMU, he was the Chief Economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.  In the past, he has worked as a Senior Economic Adviser at the Department for Work and Pensions, as rail director of the consumer watchdog Passenger Focus, and as an economic adviser to Gordon Brown, supporting him in his post-prime-ministerial work for the World Economic Forum.  

He has also served as a non-executive director of a number of housing-relating organisations, including the National Housing Federation and the homelessness charity St Mungo’s

Ashwin Kumar

Gabrielle is the youngest member of the NHS Assembly, works as a Youth Expert Advisor to NHS England and is an alumni member of the NHS Youth Forum with almost six years of experience championing Youth Voice.

She is the former chair of the Young Persons’ Advisory Group at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and in 2018 was selected as a #iwill ambassador for health at StepUpToServe. Earlier this year, Gabrielle was appointed to the oversight board at the Research and Economic Analysis for the Long term (REAL) Centre at The Health Foundation. She has also worked as a young technical advisor to the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre with Public Health England. 

Through these roles and her own healthcare journey, she has developed a keen interest in children and young people’s experiences of care; particularly when transitioning between services, consenting to procedures, receiving difficult news and in safeguarding proceedings. Her years of influencing health policy and advocating for the voices of children and young people say her celebrated as one of 450 Women of the Year in 2019, awarded a Diana Award and honoured as the 1444th Point of Light by the UK Prime Minister in 2020.

Gabrielle is a fifth year medical student at Imperial College School of Medicine where she recently graduated with first class honours in an intercalated Global Health BSc

Gabrielle Mathews

Current projects

The REAL Centre will commission external organisations to carry out discrete pieces of research, analysis and modelling.

The following programmes and projects are currently in progress:

Contact us

If you have any questions about the REAL Centre please get in touch at REALcentre@health.org.uk

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