Reducing inequalities in health and delivering prevention: What can the NHS actually do?

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One of the founding principles of the NHS, now enshrined in the NHS Constitution, is that of treating people according to need, not the ability to pay, and treating people equitably and fairly.

The NHS five year forward view has raised the expectations of the NHS in terms of its contribution to prevention. The NHS also has wider duties to tackle inequalities introduced by the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, and recent planning guidance expects CCGs to develop measurable quantifiable ambitions for reducing inequalities in local communities. What can the NHS actually do, and how can this be achieved?

This seminar, led by David Buck and Professor Chris Bentley, former head of the National Health Inequalities Support Team, set out and assessed the new policy context and how NHS England is interpreting the duties. We also shared the latest practical insights on what systematic approaches and actions the NHS can take to narrow inequalities in practice.


David Buck

David Buck joined The King's Fund in January 2011 to lead on public health and inequalities.

Before joining the Fund, David worked at the Department of Health as Head of Health Inequalities.

He managed the previous government's PSA target on health inequalities, the independent Marmot Review of inequalities in health and helped to shape the coalition's policies on health inequalities. While in the Department he worked on many policy areas including diabetes, long-term conditions, the pharmaceutical industry, childhood obesity and choice and competition.

Prior to working in the Department of Health, David worked at Guy's Hospital, King’s College London and the Centre for Health Economics in York, where his focus was on the economics of public health and behaviours and incentives.

Chris Bentley

Chris Bentley’s professional focus turned from hospital medicine to public health during eight years in Somalia, working in the emergency refugee programme, in village-based health care, and finally as adviser to the government for UNICEF. In the UK he held Director of Public Health posts in West Sussex, Sheffield and South Yorkshire over a 15-year period.

In 2006 as Head of the Health Inequalities National Support Team for the Department of Health he carried out appraisal and support visits to 50 of the most deprived areas with the poorest health in England, helping them to achieve measureable improvements at population level. From this role, he was also commissioned to advise on national public health policy.

Now as an independent consultant specialising in population-level health improvement, inequalities and the social determinants of health, he has contracts at local, regional and national level, in England and in Wales. He is currently a member of the Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation. He is a visiting Chair at Sheffield Hallam University, through which he is involved in a number of developmental and training projects. As a consultant with WHO Europe, his recent contracts have included contracts with Slovenia, Turkey and Poland.