PHE has been tasked by Parliament to play its part in reducing inequalities and in reaching those in the poorest health fastest. There is, of course, inequity in every community, even within the most wealthy, but the social gradient in health, the health of the poorest, is of particular concern in the North of England. As the New England Journal of Medicine reported in 2007, medical care accounts for only about 10% of the variation we see in health outcomes. Behavioural and lifestyle factors are major contributors in around 50% of all premature deaths. There is a need to address the causes of ill health as well as seeking to cure the consequences.
This has inspired the North to come together in a programme, led by the Academic Health Sciences Centre in Manchester, they are calling Well North, a strategically collaborative programme which seeks to tackle the wider determinant complexity of the whole problem, making visible the previously invisible (predominantly inner city) at risk people and attempting to solve rather than only manage their illnesses and anxieties.
My next Friday message will be on 8 August 2014.