RCP policy: advisory group on reducing health inequality

In 2019 the RCP continued its history of work on improving population health with the establishment of an advisory group on reducing inequalities in health and wellbeing.

The RCP Council convened the group following its agreement of the RCP policy and campaigns priorities. Its role is to help the RCP develop a strategy for reducing inequalities in health and wellbeing in populations, including those enhanced by access and uptake of effective health and care services.

Context

Our fellows and members are increasingly concerned that large swathes of the UK population are being left behind in terms of their health. That life expectancy has stopped improving for the first time since 1982 is a worry, but the fact it has decreased in some areas is highly concerning.

In its Health Profile for England: 2018, Public Health England said there was no evidence that inequalities in life expectancy had narrowed. The starkest finding was that the gap in healthy life expectancy between the richest and poorest areas of England was around 19 years.

Membership

The advisory group is chaired by Professor Carol Brayne, Professor of Public Health Medicine at the University of Cambridge, director of the Cambridge Institute of Public Health, and chair of the Faculty of Public Health’s academic and research committee.

It brings together the RCP academic vice president, RCP special advisers and lead fellows on public health issues, the RCP trainees committee, the RCP patient and carer network, and The Health Foundation. Professor Sir Michael Marmot, director of the Institute of Health Equity, acts as special adviser to the group.

What we are doing

During 2020, the group will be asking RCP committees and boards to help it develop the RCP strategy for reducing inequalities in health and wellbeing. The strategy will be framed in terms of the five areas in which Professor Sir Michael Marmot proposed the healthcare professions could and should take action.

The group will be asking RCP committees and boards to help decide what the RCP needs to do. They will be asked how the social determinants of health can be tackled through education, access to the medical profession, system design, practice, advocacy and partnerships.

Inequalities in Health Alliance

The other big piece of work will be exploring the broader appetite for establishing an Inequalities in Health Alliance, along the lines of the Obesity Health Alliance and the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change.  We will approach the other medical royal colleges, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives, Faculty of Public Health and Royal Society of Public Health, patient and carer representatives, local government and social services organisations, and charities, charitable trusts and health think tanks across the UK nations.

Reference group

The group has created a reference group of fellows, members and interested individuals. They help the advisory group by providing comments and suggestions on its work as it develops.

If you are interested in joining the reference group, please contact us via policy@rcplondon.ac.uk.