Headlines: July 4th, 2003

A plan to integrate the NHS, social services, education, planning and employment to tackle widespread health inequalities has been announced by Health Secretary John Reid. The document provides a detailed toolkit for local organizations to change the way they deliver services to improve the health of disadvantaged groups.Launching the plan John Reid said: “Why should we accept that a man born in Manchester can expect to live, on average, ten years less than one born in Dorset and that a woman born in Manchester is likely to live seven years less than a woman born in West Somerset? And why should we accept that manual workers and some ethnic minorities appear condemned to suffer worse health just through an accident of birth?”

The action plan shows how often minor changes in the way all sorts of services are provided, taken together, can transform the health of individuals. The plan’s target is to reduce by 2010 inequalities in health outcomes by 10 per cent as measured by infant mortality and life expectancy at birth. Issues addressed by the plan include: early years support for children and families, social housing, fuel poverty, educational attainment, skills development, access to public services, unemployment, and improving income among the poorest.

Local Strategic Partnerships will have a key role in tackling health inequalities locally. They will co-ordinate activity across traditional boundaries, and work in partnership with front-line staff, voluntary, community and business sectors.

Link: http://www.doh.gov.uk/healthinequalities/programmeforaction