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Dr Sapfo Lignou, Senior Researcher in Bioethics at Oxford Population Health’s Ethox Centre, has been awarded a major grant by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to explore the intersection between age and healthcare justice. This will help to determine how healthcare resources can be allocated in a way that avoids unfair discrimination between population groups.

JuSTage (Towards a Just, Stage-of-Life sensitive Allocation of Healthcare Resources) is a three-year collaborative project which will be led by Dr Lignou with support from a team of researchers at the University of Oxford, the University of Reading, and King’s College London. It will draw on expertise from more than 20 partner organisations in ethics, clinical and population medicine, public policy, healthcare commissioning, and law.

JuSTage will identify and analyse age-related assumptions in healthcare resource allocation to understand their impact on access to healthcare from early life to late adulthood. The project will also explore the legal and ethical dimensions of healthcare inequalities among age groups to uncover overlooked injustices.

Working in collaboration with NHS commissioners, healthcare providers, and patient and policy organisations, the project will develop and test a ‘stage-of-life sensitive’ approach to decision-making. This approach aims to be more responsive to healthcare needs across the lifespan and adaptable to different processes and regional policy contexts.

Dr Lignou said ‘The findings from the JuSTage project will raise awareness of overlooked healthcare injustices among decision-makers, academics, and the general public. We hope that the approach that we will develop will be used by policymakers to revise existing guidelines for the allocation of resources and support the development of new guidance.’

The grant is one of the largest awarded by the AHRC to the University of Oxford over the last ten years.