UCL Institute of Health Equity- Launch of the report and programme on working for health equity in England – the role of health professionals

The Institute for Health Equity (IHE) launched its latest report and programme at the HQ of the British Medical Association in London on 18 March. The publication sets out the commitments of the (government funded) IHE over the next two years to develop work within the National Health Service in England to help reduce health inequalities. While much public health work is being transferred to local government Health and Wellbeing boards from April, with national oversight from a new national body Public Health England, the initiative seeks to identify specific approaches which can be implemented by health service professionals. 21 such bodies have contributed statements of commitment across a wide range of health and care professionals from nurses to the Academy of the Royal Colleges to therapists, backed by the World Medical Association.

Key recommendations or actions include:

  • Incorporating social determinants knowledge and approaches in medical training and professional development;
  • Improving access to medical careers for students from all backgrounds;
  • Using the purchasing and employment powers of hospitals and health centres to meet equitable goals;
  • Enabling practitioners to work better with individuals and communities and support multi-agency partnerships;
  • Health services acting as advocates for policy changes.

EuroHealthNet Director Clive Needle, who attended the launch event, said: "This is a really impressive and ground-breaking initiative which could be replicated throughout Europe at national and regional levels. Professor Michael Marmot and his team at IHE have again shown the way forward. One speaker at the event, Jonathan Sexton who we know at EuroHealthNet from his work with Kent & Medway NHS Trust, said this is about tackling ''social dysfunction manifesting as disease'' which '' is too important to be just left to public health''. Bringing the weight of health and care service professionals to bear on the priority of addressing social determinants of health inequalities is a significant step forward towards the aim of equity within a generation. There is a wealth of practical commitments within this publication, from hospital wellness centres to plans to improve training, which EuroHealthNet will do our best to help disseminate across Europe and to encourage appropriate national and local take-up in Britain and beyond.''

The Report, Executive Summary and background documents can be found here