Lancashire and South Cumbria has been selected as one of 11 areas to launch a new programme aimed at reducing health inequalities.

The first wave of the Core20PLUS Connector programme will commence in March after Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership’s successful application from a field of 26 integrated care partnerships across England.

Core20PLUS5 is NHS England and NHS Improvement’s strategy for tackling health inequalities and how people access, experience and receive care from the NHS.

The Connectors programme will develop and support community-based roles to impact on the goals of Core20PLUS5, recognising the importance of connecting people with lived experience with decision-makers.

As one of the first areas to pilot the programme, organisations across Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership including the NHS, local authorities and Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise (VCFSE) organisations will work collaboratively to improve health outcomes for patients in the region.

Dr Andy Knox, Associate Medical Director for Lancashire and South Cumbria focusing on Population Health and Health Inequalities, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the benefits of a multi-agency approach to healthcare. The vaccination programme harnessed the power of partnerships, community collaboration and relationships to ensure equitable access to vaccines.

“The programme is a starting point in levelling up healthcare in our region, utilising local knowledge to prioritise and work with our disadvantaged communities to ensure barriers to access and other identified issues which might prevent people from accessing care are addressed.

“We have a broad range of expertise from partners across the Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership to successfully move forward with this work and deliver tangible, positive impacts on people’s health and lives.”

Proposals for the first wave of the programme were subject to an expert panel made up of VCFSE members and partners with lived experience of healthcare inequalities.

‘Core 20’ refers to the 20 per cent of the population experiencing most deprivation, with ‘plus’ representing additional groups specific to each area who have poorer than average access and outcomes from healthcare.

These are complemented by ‘five’ clinical focus areas where opportunities exist to narrow the gap in health inequality: maternity, severe mental illness (SMI), chronic respiratory disease, early cancer diagnosis and hypertension. These areas of focus are also set out in the NHS Long Term Plan and supplemented by locally identified priorities.

The announcement follows positive strides already made in transforming the health and wellbeing of people across Lancashire and South Cumbria, most notably with the creation of a Health Equity Commission led by international expert Sir Michael Marmot.

The initial scope of the Commission is to influence and engage with partners to reduce health inequalities and their role in the economy. The early work of the Commission included identifying priorities by speaking to local areas, Directors of Public Health and Health and Wellbeing partnerships, as well hearing the views of residents via an online survey.

Find out more about the Core20PLUS5 programme by visiting the NHS England website.


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