Thought-provoking, as ever. The NHS can influence health inequalities by providing equitable access to health care, directly influencing the social determinants of health through procurement and as an employer and as a champion and facilitator, influencing and supporting others. The Due North report does make a number of recommendations for the NHS to strengthen health equity, including use of the Social Value Act and action to reduce children’s exposure to poverty. Be assured that issues such as these are very much part of the policy debate for agencies in the north. Only last week, for example, we were discussing this at the tripartite meeting for NHS and local authority leaders in the north, organised by NHS England, Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Agency.
The NHS can play an important role by simply referring people to access local community services which are freely provided by the voluntary and community sector. Our website http://www.useyourcommunity.com is a free directory of local community organisations that people can locate through postcode search. Most NHS staff are not aware of the services that local community organisations can offer and by simply referring people to access local services the NHS can make an impact on poverty without spending substantial funds.