North West Brussels Office

Nicola Wilson
Senior EU Health Specialist
Telephone Cell: +44 (0)7920 296110
Brussels Office: David Ritchie, EU Health Specialist +32 2 229 53 86

North West Health Brussels Office
Rue du Trône 4
1000 Brussels



The North West Health Brussels Office, an initiative by the North West Regional European Health Group, opened in Brussels on 1 May 2004. The purpose of the office is to increase the capacity of the regional health economy to lever health, economic, social and environmental benefits from European agencies and institutions. The NWHBO is accountable to a Steering Group consisting of local and regional health sector stakeholders from the North West of England.

Why Brussels?

Working with colleagues in North West of England House, the office promotes the interests of the North West health community in Europe, facilitates lobbying on EU policies that impact on the NHS and assist in developing European partnerships and projects. Current EU policies which potentially affect the NHS include workforce issues such as the Working Time Directive, the Directive on cross border health care and communications on health and social care. The EU also provides initiatives on determinants such as tobacco, alcohol, nutrition and European-wide issues such as the aging population, youth and social inclusion. Being in Brussels allows NWHBO staff to access information often before it is made public.

What do we do?

The work of the NWHBO is divided into two areas: Public Health issues, and NHS-affecting policy. Public health issues dealt with by the European Union include the health determinants mentioned above as well as the wider determinants affecting public health, environmental issues, emergency planning, housing, urban planning and rural development. NHS-affecting policy including all employment legislation, legislation affecting clinical services such as blood and tissue regulations and corporate issues such as building regulations, waste regulations and procurement.

How do we do it?

The NWHBO undertakes the following activities under the above mentioned areas of work: information gathering to keep stakeholders up-to-date and as an early-warning mechanism; capacity building including providing briefings, training and events; advocacy at all levels in order to ensure the position of the NW is represented in policy-making; networking in order to raise the profile of the region and encourage joint-working; and finally providing support to stakeholders for EU funding applications and project development.

Who is involved?

Stakeholders include all PCTs in the North West of England and the Strategic health Authority. The NWHBO also works with local authorities and other agencies to ensure effective collaboration on European issues on the subjects of interest to the partnership.

Health in Country


The North West of England is a vibrant and diverse region with a population of 6.9 million people, the third most populated English region behind the South East and London. The North West has five distinctive sub-regions, Cheshire, Merseyside, Cumbria, Lancashire and Greater Manchester. 17.5% of people are aged 0-14 years and 16.3% are aged 65+, which is an age profile younger than the national average. 89% of people in the North West have a White British ethnicity, the largest BME groups are Asian / Asian British Pakistani (2.1%), Asian / Asian British Indian (1.5%) and White Irish and Other (2.7%). In addition to that, 32% of the North West population live in the most deprived quintile nationally and only 15% live in the least deprived quintile. Areas of deprivation concentrate in the urban centres of Liverpool and Manchester, however all local authority areas within the region have some pockets of deprivation within their geography.

Health Status

Unfortunately, the health of the people in the North West is poor in comparison with other regions in both the UK and parts of Europe. The North West has the lowest life expectancy across all regions and highest rates of early death from heart diseases. Compared with the rest of England, men in the North West can expect to live 1.6 years less, whilst women can expect to live 1.4 years less.

The population of the North West is however living longer than ever before and health is improving for many residents. Progress continues to be made in reducing deaths from heart disease and stroke and the gap between the North West and England is narrowing.

Children's health across the North West is generally worse than the England average, including the proportion of mothers smoking in pregnancy and the
average number of decayed teeth among children aged five years. However, the level of physical activity among children is better than the England average.

NHS North West has improved its position across the range of indicators set out in the APHO Health Profiles, rising from being the worst performer of the ten English regions in 2008 to being in 6th position in 2010. Compared to one year ago, fewer adults in the region smoke and are obese, and more people eat healthily, which is an indication that people may be choosing to lead healthier lives. There is a continued emphasis on improving health of the population  through the work of the Public Health and Local Government transition plans.

However, the North West is still significantly worse than the rest of England for many health indicators. NHS North West has decided to focus on two specific challenges to improve health in the region, which are the following:

  • reducing the numbers of hospital admissions for alcohol-related harm: the North West has the second highest rate of hospital admissions for alcohol-related harm in England and rates continue to rise faster than in other regions; more than 160,000 annual admissions in the North West are related to alcohol use.
  • reducing the incapacity benefit claimants for mental illness: the rate of incapacity benefit claims for mental illness in the North West is the highest in England, almost 170,000 people claimed last year. North West employers have a critical role in creating healthier workplaces and increasing the physical and mental health of the working population

Tackling these rising trends requires concerted action by local partnerships.

Health Inequalities

There are inequalities in health across the North West which are closely related to deprivation.For example, people in more affluent local authorities, such as Ribble Valley and Cheshire East, generally experience better health than the England average. However, the health of people in areas with the highest levels of deprivation, such as in Tameside or Liverpool, is generally worse than the England average.

For more statistics and information on the North West of England please click here.

For more information, please contact the North West Health Brussels Office

Projects & Programmes

Please read the following brochures to find out more about the EU co-funded health projects that are managed by the North West of England Region:

Regional Health Strategies

Please find below links to the various thematic health strategies, which are currently active in the North West region.  These links are intended to allow prospective European partners the opportunity to view North West health priorites and discover areas of mutual interest. 

News & Publications

Useful Links



EuroHealthNet illustrates the strong links which exist between health, poverty and social exclusion
European Quality of Life Survey 2012
See video