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Addressing geographical inequalities in neonatal and infant mortality using linked routine data

   Institute of Population Health

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  Dr Daniela Schlüter, Prof D Taylor-Robinson, Dr Nim Subhedar, Prof Ian Sinha  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Liverpool United Kingdom Data Analysis Epidemiology Health Informatics Politics & Government Statistics

About the Project

Applications will be considered as they are received and so early applications are encouraged.

About the project

This is an exciting opportunity to join a multidisciplinary team and utilise routinely collected data and advanced statistical methods to provide evidence for policy development to reduce inequalities in neonatal and infant mortality across the UK.

There has been an unprecedented rise in infant mortality rates since 2014, especially in disadvantaged areas such as Liverpool. This rise is primarily due to an increase in the proportion of babies that die within the neonatal period, the first 28 days of life; most of these deaths occur in hospital neonatal care units. Neonatal mortality rates in the North West are above the UK average. Even within the North West there are large variations; the proportion of babies that die at Liverpool Women’s Hospital is higher than at comparable units for example in Manchester. The reasons for this are unclear.

Local service providers and policy makers have highlighted the need to understand to what extent the observed trends can be explained by adverse maternal and pregnancy-related characteristics and circumstances of the population as opposed to differences in neonatal care.

This studentship will utilise local and national routine data and apply advanced statistical methods to address this question. Specifically, we will identify geographical and temporal trends in in-hospital neonatal mortality across England. We will then identify risk factors for in-hospital neonatal mortality and the extent to which they can explain the observed trends. Working with Liverpool City Council and parents across the UK, we will develop policy recommendations to address the most important risk factors amenable to public health interventions.


This project will be jointly supervised by a team from the University of Liverpool, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and Liverpool Women’s Hospital with input from the leads for the North West Neonatal Operational Delivery Network and the child public health lead for Liverpool City Council.

The successful candidate will be based in the Health Inequalities Policy Research (HIP-R) team in the Department of Public Health, Policy and Systems (PHPS). PHPS has approximately 25 postgraduate students and 30 post-doctoral researchers. PHPS hosts weekly seminars and a bi-weekly journal club. The HIP-R team encompasses 32 research active students and staff with a wide range of expertise (including handling and analysing large observational datasets) that the candidate can draw on.

We will develop a bespoke training package depending on the candidate’s background and development needs. This may for example include formal training in advanced statistical methods and the candidate can attend MPH modules on Health Inequalities and Health Services Research. The University of Liverpool's Doctoral Training College offers courses/workshops to gain key skills including systematic reviews and presentations and there will be opportunities to present the work at conferences, workshops and seminars. The student can join the North West Neonatal Operational Delivery Network quarterly clinical effectiveness meetings and annual study days on clinical aspects of neonatal care, and Alder Hey’s grand rounds on Child Health.


Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2.1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in Statistics, Epidemiology or a related subject. A relevant Master’s degree and /or research experience in Statistics, Epidemiology, Public Health or other health related subjects will be an advantage. 

For any enquiries please contact: Dr Daniela Schlueter on: [Email Address Removed]

To apply please send a CV and covering letter to Dr Daniela Schlueter on: [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This studentship is fully funded by the Hugh Greenwood Legacy for Children’s Health Research Fund and the University of Liverpool. It provides a tax-free stipend of £15,285 in the first year with yearly increments to £15,852 plus tuition fees and conference travel and training allowance.
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