Guest Editorial March 2011

Brendan Osborne and Gary Lucking 

The guest editorial for March 2011 has been written by Brendan Osborne, Programme Lead for Healthy Places Healthy Lives at the NHS Institute. Brendan Osborne and Gary Lucking, Senior Fellow, will present on the topic of health inequalities from 4 – 5pm on 17 March 2011.  Follow this link to register for the session.


What is Healthy Places Healthy Lives?

The Healthy Places Healthy Lives (HPHL) programme is piloting a partnership approach to tackle health inequalities in England, working with the Department of Health (DH) and the Local Government Association (LGA). 25 partnerships across the country are working collaboratively with local partners to reduce the health inequality gap by addressing the wider social determinants of health - the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age.

The HPHL programme is supported by the Local Government Improvement and Development team, the Marmot team, and the National Support Team for Health Inequalities.

What is the programme aiming to achieve?

HPHL encourages partnership working and shares ongoing learning across participating sites using a range of resources including virtual and face-to-face learning events, an online community of practice, and engagement from important public and community bodies, community members and service users most affected by the identified health inequality issue.

The HPHL model has been developed to help sites:

  • tackle difficult health inequalities in their locality
  • develop innovative ways of working
  • assist with spread and adoption of proven health inequalities interventions.

This encompasses:

  • taking forward the recommendations of the Marmot review
  • learning from achievements and creating sustainable systems and approaches to address health inequalities
  • enhancing capability and capacity to continue addressing health inequalities in the long-term
  • improving commissioning processes which provide the lever for local change.

Current work across the sites is focusing on:

  • reducing teenage pregnancy
  • tackling risky behaviour in teenagers and raising aspirations
  • reducing alcohol harm 
  • reducing obesity
  • preventing infant mortality 
  • reducing cardiovascular disease
  • earlier detection of cancer
  • improving rates of smoking cessation.

What are the benefits of the programme?

  • Development of a tried and tested rigorous approach to tackling the health inequalities agenda at a local level, focusing on a specific area.
  • Support from a range of agencies that haven’t previously come together to support a health inequalities programme of work.
  • Online seminars and a community of practice which supports partnerships to work collaboratively.
  • Continuous learning which helps public health and non special public health across sectors to understand and better address the health inequalities agenda.


Great Yarmouth and Waveney

The primary care trust set up a multi-agency “Think Tank” to consider new approaches to reducing alcohol harm and its associated costs. The group calculated current alcohol related costs in the locality to make sure it could accurately measure the success of the project locally, before thinking about how it could make substantial improvements to local health as well as saving costs. It also used a return on investment framework to review current interventions and compared this with cost-effective alcohol harm reduction interventions identified by the World Health Organisation.

The HPHL team supported this insight work, allowing the Think Tank to reflect on what was happening locally and identify opportunities for potential improvement. Subsequently, the group has made several local recommendations which will inform the direction of their alcohol strategy and their ongoing work to tackle alcohol related health inequalities in the area.

Eastern and Coastal Kent

Reducing teenage pregnancy rates is a priority area for development in the Eastern and Coastal Kent locality. The HPHL partnership is working with the public health observatory to pilot an innovative web-based geo-mapping tool to tackle the issue. The tool is capable of visually displaying, on one map, data relating to ‘at risk’ populations already captured by the public health observatory, as well as data showing local health services and other public sector assets that can support local developments.

The tool can also very quickly display conception rates and other key data which would otherwise be presented in less accessible graph or table formats. By creating and tacking data relating to at risk groups, practitioners will have easier and more timely access to information which will help them to identify gaps in service provision.