A second wave of health action zones has been given the go-ahead by health secretary Frank Dobson.

Fifteen HAZs were unveiled on Tuesday, bringing the total to 26, covering 13 million people.

Eleven of the new zones have been told to develop a full HAZ programme to start on 1 April next year.

Schemes in four further areas - Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Teesside, and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly - have been given outline approval.

Mr Dobson said they needed to demonstrate that they had a satisfactory plan of action for getting started in April. The government is investing 15m in the new wave of HAZ projects, which Mr Dobson described as 'a key part of the government's drive to target areas with particularly high levels of ill health'.

Schemes in Leicester and Bury and Rochdale focus on the health of people from ethnic minorities.

Merseyside HAZ is the largest in the second wave, covering 1.4 million people.

A spokesperson said: 'This is an opportunity for Merseyside to be a trailblazer.'

In Cornwall, the HAZ will look at care of elderly people and children and how primary care groups can be integrated into a wider healthcare improvement package.

Chief executive Ron Spencer, said: 'Our aim is to achieve improvements in health, reductions in health inequalities and a fuller life for individuals.'