What part will the NHS have to play in improved access to shopping?

Paul Foreman, external development manager at Birmingham health authority, believes that the public sector has been ignored in the PAT13 report.

The health service provides many opportunities for training and jobs and is a substantial employer .

We do a lot of work around supporting local community business and local food co-ops, yet we have not been included.

Partnership arrangements don't seem to be recognised as sources of support for social enterprise and development of local business opportunities, he says.

I hope that when the national strategy is produced, some of the issues about joined up working will be dealt with.

John Ashton, North West regional director of public health, also believes the NHS has a key role. Hospitals are big employers. They could go into partnerships with local shops and organise credit unions which would help people in deprived areas.