Exploring the private costs of accessing health and social care and implications for health inequalities

The studentship will explore the personal financial barriers to accessing health and social care, and how these affect experiences and outcomes for people from different groups in society.

Start date
1 April 2021
36 months
Application deadline
Funding source
University of Surrey / NIHR Applied Research Collaboration
Funding information

The funding package for this studentship scheme is as follows:

  • Full UK/EU tuition fee waiver
  • Stipend at UKRI rates (£15,285 p.a.)
  • Personal Computer (provided by the host department)


The British NHS is one of the most equitable healthcare systems in the world, but patients still pay out-of-pocket for travel to appointments and personal social services. People with lower incomes are most disadvantaged and the costs may prevent some from seeking the care they need.  As a result, their health may suffer and inequalities in health in society worsen. Of the several factors that contribute to deprivation and poor health (e.g. bad housing, unemployment, low skills and education), access to healthcare is under-researched. 

The studentship provides an opportunity for in-depth study, from an economics perspective, of the costs incurred by private individuals in accessing health and social care, how these are distributed amongst groups in society, and how they impact on experiences and health outcomes.   Whilst the details of the work will evolve over the period of the studentship, it is envisaged that mixed methods will be used and that the student will be involved in both primary and secondary data collection and analysis. The work will include: an international overview of health and social care financing policy; a systematic review of factors affecting access to health and social care, and how access affects experiences and health outcomes; selection of service user groups in deprived areas for study of access issues.

The student will be supervised by Professor Heather Gage, Director of the Surrey Health Economics Centre (SHEC). Situated with the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, SHEC is a vibrant research group that provides the health economics for a wide portfolio of collaborative projects in health and social care.  The award is an NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (Kent, Surrey, Sussex) studentship and the successful candidate will be part of the ARC’s community of doctoral students. 

The studentship will be hosted by the Surrey Health Economics Centre (SHEC). The award is part of a suite of studentships within the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (Kent, Surrey, Sussex).

Eligibility criteria

Open to UK/EU students with a masters level qualification in health economics, or relevant social science or health discipline.

IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6 in each individual category.

How to apply

Please apply for this PhD through the Biosciences and Medicine PhD applications portal (“Apply” tab)

Potential students should complete a cover letter demonstrating their interest in, and suitability for, the project. We would also like a CV detailing your previous research experience, and two academic references. 


Application deadline

Contact details

Heather Gage

E-mail: H.Gage@surrey.ac.uk

Surrey Health Economics Centre, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine

The successful candidate will be based in Surrey Health Economics Centre (SHEC) with its team of six researchers engaged in delivery of a variety of externally funded collaborative projects in the applied health and social care domain. Members of SHEC work closely with colleagues in the Surrey CTU and other health-related disciplines across the University of Surrey.  SHEC leads for health economics across Kent, Surrey and Sussex and has a nationwide network of collaborators.  The award is an NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (Kent, Surrey, Sussex) studentship. Whilst part of the University of Surrey Doctoral College, the successful candidate will also be part of the ARC KSS community of doctoral students across the region.


Studentships at Surrey

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