UK Government

Department of Health: New programme to make health inequalities everybody’s business

Press Release   •   Jan 19, 2010 11:29 GMT

A new programme in thirty areas of the country will support the health service and local public sector organisations to work together to reduce inequalities by tackling local challenges.

Healthy Places, Healthy Lives will encourage local leadership on the health inequalities agenda and share learning, meaning that health inequalities becomes everybody’s business, Public Health Minister Gillian Merron announced today.

Volunteer ‘fellows’ from across the public sector – including for example GPs, firemen or finance directors - will build on current work and help deliver action on health inequalities, not just in the NHS, but across all public service agendas.

The programme is a further call to arms to all public services to play their part in giving everyone an equal chance for good health – and practical help in how to achieve this.

The NHS is already working with local authorities and other public services on board to help tackle inequalities. This new programme will boost current and future work and will be informed by the emerging recommendations from the post 2010 strategic review of health inequalities (the ‘Marmot Review’) which is due to be published in February.

The Marmot Review process has already demonstrated that social factors including where you are born and the environment in which you grow up and work in have a significant impact on your future health.

Public Health Minister Gillian Merron said:

"The NHS cannot overcome health inequalities alone. This is why local authorities and the Health Service have been working together to improve health in our communities. This new programme offers a real opportunity to boost these efforts to make life-changing improvements possible.

"The Government has put in place the most comprehensive programme ever in this country to address health inequalities, and projects like this are invaluable in giving everyone an equal chance of good health."

Life expectancy is at its highest it has ever been.  Infant mortality is at a record low and deaths from circulatory diseases and cancer are falling. Thanks to Smokefree legislation and a continued drive to help smokers to stop, there are 2.4 million fewer smokers now than ten years ago. Childhood obesity rates are levelling off, but there is still progress to be made.

In response to this challenge, two of the biggest Government improvement agencies – the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement and IDeA (the Improvement and Development Agency for local government) have been brought together to run this programme which will identity cutting edge best practice across the NHS and its local authority partners. This work will also draw on the expertise of the Department of Health’s Health Inequalities National Support Team.

Thirty partnerships drawn from a range of health and local authority partners will test and explore different approaches to improving health outcomes and at the same time improve their world class commissioning capacity and capability.

Up to 20 people from across the public sector will be recruited to bridge the gap between the NHS, local authorities and the third sector. These people, who could for example be policemen, finance directors, or GPs will work with improvement experts and the thirty partnerships for three days a week for a year. They will act as a catalyst to get work to reduce health inequalities firmly established not just in the NHS but across all public service agendas.

NHS Institute chief executive Bernard Crump said:

“Our staff will be helping local teams to analyse their issues with a fresh perspective and make use of our well developed improvement techniques to find local solutions to local issues.

“We’ve seen what fantastic results can be achieved when staff at the frontline are empowered to lead on improvement projects so we know that this initiative will really help public services work together better to reduce health inequalities.”

The programme will be robustly evaluated to ensure the learning feeds into future national and local developments and a strategy will be developed to spread this best practice more widely.

Notes to editors

The HPHL programme will test and explore different partnership approaches locally, building local capacity and capability particularly in terms of better use of commissioning. It was developed to create local sustainability and share learning from local work towards supporting the current health inequalities PSA target.

Funding of £1.5m will support the programme until March 2011. A further £1.9m has been committed by partners - £1m as part of the SHA ring-fenced bundle to the NHS Institute), £30k from each participating PCT and their local authority partner and contributions in kind from IDeA and other local government partners.

A support programme has been procured to increase the effectiveness of the programme and will run will be by PWC and Finnamore Consulting in conjunction with the NHS Institute, IDeA and the National Support Team for Health Inequalities.

The Marmot Review (the Post-2010 Strategic Review of Health Inequalities) was commissioned by the Secretary of State for Health and asked to assess the latest evidence on health inequalities in England and identify possible policy approaches for tackling them. The report of the review is expected to be published in February.

The NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement has supported both managers and frontline clinical teams across the UK to realise their potential by increasing productivity and efficiency whilst unlocking savings and improving patient experience.


Southampton City PCT - Childhood obesity/Alcohol
Isle of Wight Healthcare PCT - Obesity/Teenage Pregnancy
Milton Keynes PCT - Not Identified
Hammersmith & Fulham - Smoking
Tower Hamlet - Teenage Pregnancy
Barking & Dagenham PCT - Not Identified
Redbridge - Childhood obesity
Eastern and Coastal Kent PCT - Teenage Pregnancy
Medway PCT - CVD
Brighton and Hove City PCT - Teenage Pregnancy/Drug Abuse
Luton PCT - Smoking
Great Yarmouth and Waveney PCT - Alcohol/Domestic Abuse
Stoke on Trent PCT - Smoking
Leicester City PCT - CVD
Northamptonshire PCT - Alcohol
Nottinghamshire PCT - Not Identified
Lincolnshire PCT - Teenage Pregnancy
NHS Kirklees - Teenage Pregnancy
North East Lincolnshire Care Trust Plus - Teenage Pregnancy/Obesity
Stockton on Tees PCT - Teenage Pregnancy/Obesity
Bolton Primary Care Trust - Not Identified
Ashton, Leigh & Wigan PCT - Domestic Abuse
Salford PCT - Obesity
Blackburn with Darwen - Not Identified
Trafford PCT - Mental Health
East Lancashire PCT - Alcohol/Drugs


NDS Enquiries
Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department