New strategy outlines seven point plan to address health inequalities

06/09/2010

Belfast Trust today launched a seven point plan to help make sure that more people in its area enjoy the best possible health.

Belfast has the highest level of deprivation in Northern Ireland – and this translates into lower life expectancy and higher levels of illness as well as uneven access to health services.

The Trust’s strategy to address inequalities was launched at the Girls Model School in North Belfast.

Belfast Trust today launched a seven point plan to help make sure that more people in its area enjoy the best possible health.

Belfast has the highest level of deprivation in Northern Ireland – and this translates into lower life expectancy and higher levels of illness as well as uneven access to health services.

Read the 'Not Just Health' Strategy Document now


Launch event at the Girls Model school

The Trust’s strategy to address inequalities was launched at the Girls Model School in North Belfast.

For the entire school intake of 2010 across Belfast it is estimated for example that
• At least one in 10 will become smokers
• Four out of five will be overweight or obese by the age of 16

Unhealthy behaviours based on low self esteem or lack of information – a difficult at home environment can shorten lives but in the shorter term they can also do real damage – affecting young people’s concentration, leading to poor exam results and reduced career choices.” Dr Leslie Boydell, the Trust’s Associate Medical Director for Public Health said today.

“At the Girl’s Model there is a real commitment to promoting a healthy lifestyle among all students. We work in partnership with the school to provide nurse led drop in clinics for young people on issues from weight management to sexual health. We also provide classroom based sessions on mental health and wellbeing.”

Giving children and young people the best possible start in life is number one on the Trust’s seven point plan.

“Our Trust aims to make a real and measurable difference to the impact of health inequalities on the lives of people living in Belfast.” Chairman Pat McCartan said.

Welcoming the launch of the ‘Not Just Health’ plan, Health and Social Services Minister Michael McGimpsey said:

“Strategies such as this underline how important it is to keep the issue of health inequalities on the public agenda despite the other challenges facing health and social care.

“Investing in young people’s health and wellbeing will reap some of the greatest rewards. What happens to them in their school years will have a major impact on their future health and life chances – so it is particularly appropriate that we launch the strategy in a school setting today.”

Not Just Health

The Trust’s strategy is called “Not Just Health” because inequalities arise from all aspects of a person’s life – not just health.

Its seven strategic objectives on health inequalities (the seven point plan) are:

  1. Make it a priority to give every child the best start in life and support young people to fulfil their potential
  2. Demonstrate leadership through interagency partnerships and advocacy to address the social determinants of health
  3. Encourage all health and social care professionals to use available opportunities to promote health and wellbeing
  4. Provide a healthy work environment and maximise the health and wellbeing of our staff and their families; support routes to employment within health and social services for the long-term unemployed; and enable staff to engage in learning and support career progression
  5. Work with service users, carers and community groups, building on Involving You, the Trust’s framework for user involvement and community development, in a way that leads to shared decision-making
  6. Measure inequalities in access to our services, understand the inequalities in morbidity in the population we serve and participate in high quality evaluations of interventions introduced to tackle inequalities in health
  7. Reduce our carbon footprint and prepare to deal with the effects of climate change on health.

Pictured: (From left) Dr Leslie Boydell, Belfast Trust, Rebecca Bradford, Girls Model, Michael McGimpsey, Minister of Health and Holly Johnston, Girls Model