Headlines: September 1st, 2004

A dozen pathfinder authorities are to take the next steps in projects to tackle health inequalities within their areas under a scheme being supported by the Improvement and Development Agency. Work the councils have already done is available for other authorities to share.Working towards healthier communities is one of the Shared Priority themes developed by central and local government because of concerns about widening inequality in health between groups and areas. The differences cross the generations but significantly affect children and are blamed for holding back educational standards.

Under the project twelve pathfinder councils have been testing a self-assessment tool to identify key areas of health depravation in their own districts. Each of the authorities will now develop a project to tackle a specific area of health inequality.

Problems to be tackled include the integrated delivery of services, teenage pregnancy, homelessness and the elimination of the use of B&B accommodation, reducing the number of accidents, increasing access to mainstream services for people with mental health problems and education attainment as well as trying to encourage healthy eating, giving up smoking and taking more exercise.

The Department of Health has compiled case studies for the themes and these are available in a resource pack on the IDeA Knowledge website for all authorities to use. Healthy Communities is a Round 6 Beacon Council theme.