NHS Providers launches guide for trust leaders to tackle health inequalities

26 March 2024

NHS Providers has today launched a comprehensive guide for NHS trust board members to tackle health inequalities, warning that failure to act urgently on these disparities will put overstretched health and care services under even more pressure.

Reducing health inequalities: A guide for NHS trust board members is a practical resource designed to help NHS trust board members drive down unjust differences in health outcomes in their local communities. As healthcare providers navigate the complexities of delivering equitable care within their organisations, this guide can serve as a roadmap, enabling them to champion health equity and create positive change.

The guide covers a wide range of topics, from operational and clinical service delivery to the role of NHS trusts as anchor institutions and employers of NHS staff. It also provides a vision of what effective action on health inequalities entails, and suggests objectives for board members to implement within their trusts.

The guide underlines the critical importance of NHS trusts' role in addressing health inequalities, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has starkly exposed existing disparities. It highlights the complex drivers of health inequalities, from social determinants to healthcare delivery systems, and outlines strategies for trusts to ensure fair access, experience, and outcomes for all segments of the population.

Key components of the guide include:

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive at NHS Providers said:

"In the face of mounting pressures on the healthcare sector, tackling health inequalities is both a moral imperative and a strategic necessity for the NHS.

"The pandemic laid bare the deep-seated inequities that persist within our society, disproportionately affecting vulnerable and marginalised communities.

"The launch of our guide underlines the critical role NHS board members play in this battle. As healthcare leaders, they hold the key to reshaping policies and services to address some of the root causes of disparities.

"Failing to act not only exacerbates pressures on our already overstretched services but also undermines the very ethos of equitable healthcare.

"Now is the time for decisive action to ensure every patient receives the care they deserve, regardless of their background or circumstances."