Winner: Homerton University Hospital foundation trust

With infant mortality rates in Hackney above the national average, the local strategic partnership funded interventions to reach vulnerable women

The action was targeted at West African and Caribbean women, pregnant women who are particularly young, and women who are failing to make contact with maternity services until late in their pregnancy or not at all. Projects that have developed since include:

  • Bump Buddies, a peer education programme involving local African and Caribbean women trained as "community messengers" to befriend women and offer advice on accessing care and keeping well in pregnancy;

  • a designated maternity helpline that puts callers in touch with an experienced midwife;

  • the introduction of community-based bilingual maternity support workers to support women with language needs and a midwifery group practice to give continuity of care in a particularly deprived area.

Improvements have been marked in the percentage of women accessing maternity care by 12 weeks of pregnancy (68 per cent compared to 44 per cent of women receiving standard use) and breastfeeding rates have improved.

There has also been a reduction in emergency caesarean rates and the maternity helpline has taken over 3,000 calls since September 2007.

While a reduction in infant mortality is a long-term goal, an evaluation of the programme is under way. The judges said the programme showed it had undergone a rigorous assessment and demonstrated real community engagement.

Reducing infant mortality project, contact

Highly Commended: Central and Eastern Cheshire PCT

The Pathways project sought to engage unemployed social housing tenants with access to training and work experience, with a view to enabling them to apply for entry-level jobs in the health service.

Established by Central and Eastern Cheshire PCT, Cheshire county council, Wulvern Housing and Crewe and Nantwich borough council to improve health and well-being through increasing employability, it is a social enterprise scheme which has supported 85 long-term unemployed people to gain jobs in the NHS.

Pathways Community Interest Company, contact

Highly Commended: Dance Action Zone Leeds/Leeds PCT

Dance Action Zone Leeds is supported by Leeds PCT to develop, implement and sustain dance activities to improve the health and well-being of young people, particularly girls.

Its projects include piloting a dance-based weight management project, drugs education for young people and dance projects in young offenders' institutes.

Future projects are set to target inactive children and engage them in dance and to work with 15 to 19-year-olds who have more advanced dance skills and will be given the opportunity to develop higher levels of technique.

Dance Action Zone Leeds, contact

Finalist: Berkshire West PCT

A My Health booklet was devised for people with learning disabilities in Wokingham. It contains three sections: the first on general health, including a health action plan; the second a health check to be conducted annually at a GP surgery with the aim of maintaining health and identifying health issues; and the third a section for people with learning disabilities to take with them if they are admitted to hospital.

An audit of the service showed a number of new and previously unidentified health needs had been found. It also showed fear among people with learning disabilities about visiting GP practices had reduced.

My Health Booklet, contact

Finalist: Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly PCT

EEFO aims to reduce the inequalities faced by young people aged 13-19 in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. At its inception it was recognised that young people were being inadequately served by the delivery of services, compounded by geographical barriers to access and a lack of access to transport.

The EEFO website contains information on all services for young people. These have been assessed for nine quality areas and for being "young person friendly". The site acts as a signpost to quality services for young people and professionals.

EEFO Youth Website, contact

Finalist: NHS Tayside

In this scheme - developed by NHS Tayside, three local authorities and local supermarkets - midwives identify pregnant women who want to give up smoking.

After being enrolled on the scheme by a community pharmacist, the women are invited to attend the pharmacy on a weekly basis for 12 weeks. After demonstrating they are free of tobacco, for each week a woman is smoke free, she is credited with£12.50 worth of vouchers to spend in a local supermarket.

The scheme continues for three months after the birth of the infant and contact with the woman is maintained to offer her the chance to participate in other activities.

Give It Up For Baby, contact