Supported by the King's Fund

Judges

  • Professor Rod Griffiths, president, Faculty of Public Health
  • Dr Fiona Adshead, deputy chief medical officer
  • Maggie Rae, head of health inequalities, Department of Health
  • Ruth Thorlby, fellow in health policy, King's Fund

WinnerSandwell PCT

An integrated approach to beat health inequalities puts Sandwell at the heart of a co-ordinated drive to regenerate the area, with 90 per cent of GP surgeries participating in the physical activity referral scheme

The joint health and social care policy unit was set up in 2004 to generate new heights of integration and co-ordination between primary care and other local players.

Major capital investments are in the pipeline for Sandwell, and the unit has drawn together partners and integrated activity to ensure public health is incorporated into this wider vision.

A Transforming Sandwell board, set up by the unit in 2005, brings together senior representatives of the council and the PCT. The board has the power to set strategy. Its responsibilities span regeneration and skills development as well as health improvement - an approach which is expected to bring reductions in health inequalities in its wake. Health inequalities are looked at more closely by a dedicated group which meets every other month to share information and monitor progress.

The unit supports a number of other direct approaches to health inequality. It has backed area-wide take-up of a food policy, which is in the process of being endorsed and developed across the local strategic partnership.

The unit also hosts the community health network, which co-ordinates NHS activities with community-based efforts to improve health. Its database contains about 120 faith organisations and black and minority ethnic groups, and is used for mailshots.

The Physical Activity Referral Scheme brings together primary care and council services. If a patient is prescribed regular exercise by a GP, they receive a 10-week free pass for council leisure centres. A number of significant landmarks on the way to the unit's long-term goals have been achieved.

Some 90 per cent of GP surgeries participate in the physical activity referral scheme, and 215 people benefited from it in 2004-05. Statistics show take-up after the free period expired was high. The community health network runs regular health promotion events across all communities. It has adapted a number of projects for minority communities, such as health walks and sports programmes for men or women.

Six shops - one in each of Sandwell's six towns - signed up to promote healthier food in 2005-06. In three, the volume of fruit and vegetable sales has risen by 90.5 per cent.

Joint health and social care policy unit, contact john.middleton@rrt-pct.nhs.uk

Highly commendedBlackpool PCT and Blackpool Borough Council

A joint approach is being used to tackle Blackpool men's life expectancy, which is the second worst in England and Wales

Blackpool PCT and council have worked together to analyse and tackle the root causes of men's low life expectancy, attaining new levels of cross-boundary co-operation in the process. A joined-up approach to employment, community safety, environment, housing and education for marginalised groups has formed a bedrock of the approach, along with the joint appointment of a director of public health.

The trust began by working with partners to pin down the health problems affecting the life expectancy of Blackpool residents. The list included alcohol-related disease, injuries, suicide, drugs, heart disease, chest conditions and cancer. A set of agreements were drawn up between the council, police and PCT covering alcohol, accidents, physical activity and nutrition, sexual health, and tobacco control. Each agreement is targeted at the areas and population subgroups in greatest need.

The council has identified a lead officer for health in every directorate. These meet to plan health improvement measures, which are then monitored by the health overview and scrutiny committee. The council is also in the process of appointing a health policy officer to sit in the corporate policy team. The project is being monitored by the local strategic partnership quarterly. It will take time for the actions to feed through into longer life expectancies, but the way health improvement is tackled in Blackpool has already changed dramatically.

Turning the tide of ill-health in Blackpool, contact judith.mills@blackpoolpct.nhs.uk

FinalistHammersmith and Fulham PCT and North Fulham NDC

North Fulham New Deal for Communities is a centrally funded initiative designed to narrow the gap between poorer and more affluent communities

Lifestyle Fridays was launched in June 2004. The informal drop-in sessions are staffed by a nurse, dietician and clinical exercise specialist. Screening of cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure and body mass index is offered, along with advice on how to improve your health through lifestyle choices.

Lifestyle Fridays has also been turned into a roadshow to reach an even wider range of people. From June 2004 to May 2006, 655 people attended. Eleven cases of diabetes were picked up, and 234 health improvement referrals made.

Lifestyle Fridays, contact leona.condliffe@lbhf.gov.uk

FinalistSouth Warwickshire PCT and General Hospitals Trust

Apnee Sehat was designed to tackle health inequalities among the South Asian community in south Warwickshire

Premature diabetes and heart disease are more prevalent in South Asians than the general population. This strategy was set up with the involvement of Asian women and community and religious leaders. Key objectives included motivating South Asian people to change their lifestyle, and making it easier for them to make healthy choices.

The acute, primary and social care trusts worked together, along with a number of other partners to deliver the project.

Social marketing approaches included a health-themed Divali calendar, posters and a culturally sensitive DVD.

Apnee Sehat (Our Health) - taking health messages from temple to table, contact stephen.munday@swarkpct.nhs.uk

FinalistNorth Manchester PCT

A team encourages exercise in Manchester, which has high levels of deprivation and a short life expectancy among some groups

Exercise is a proven way to tackle short life expectancy, yet access to physical activity has been limited.

PACE was set up improve health through getting people more active. This meant devising alternatives to traditional sports or gym-based exercise and supporting people to maintain the new behaviour. The team worked with GPs, supermarkets, Manchester City FC, the National Cycling Centre and community groups. Activities include the 'learn to run' scheme, walks, gentle classes, plus options for people who are overweight or with long-term health conditions.

Physical activity and community exercise team (PACE), contact craig.jones@northpct.manchester.nwest.nhs.uk