Publication launched to promote collaboration between health sector and free legal services
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Marc Bloomfield
Description: Legal aid
July 2021 saw the launch of Law for health, the first publication of the Health Justice Partnerships project, initiated by Professor Dame Hazel Genn, director of the project based at University College London, and funded by The Legal Education Foundation. The project is designed to promote and support the development of collaborations between healthcare providers and free social welfare legal services. It will also help to build a robust evidence base addressing the value of such partnerships for access to justice and health services.
Law for health: using free legal services to tackle the social determinants of health aims to share some of Professor Genn’s access to justice research and expertise with health and care professionals, policymakers and other key partners, such as in the voluntary sector. Law is arguably one of the most important social determinants of health, critically influencing the daily lives of individuals and populations, the conditions where people grow, live, work and age. Professor Genn’s work, spanning over 30 years, has recently focused on the bi-directional relationship between law and health, showing law has the potential to both create and damage the conditions for people to be healthy – physically and mentally.
For example, housing insecurity or poor living conditions can create new physical and mental health problems or worsen existing ones. At the same time, as we have seen all too clearly during the COVID-19 pandemic, ill health can interfere with the ability to work, and subsequently affect income, housing and social care. The pandemic has worsened inequalities in the UK, with the most vulnerable suffering from higher mortality rates and levels of disease, and worse effects from the containment measures, such as lockdown.
In the coming months, Health Justice Partnerships will be working locally in partnership with the NHS and voluntary groups to build local collaborations between health and free legal services. At a strategic level, Professor Genn is also advising the Ministry of Justice on its first pilots with the NHS co-locating health and social welfare legal services.

About the author(s)

Description: Hazel Genn - author
Professor Dame Hazel Genn is director of UCL Law for Health.