Working together to increase life expectancy
Due to the impact of Covid-19 on health inequalities; the Marmot Partnership Group led on work to tackle increasing gaps in health outcomes.
They developed a ‘Call to Action’, which brought together input from all parts of the system – public, private and voluntary organisations. It recognised that there could be a significant impact on increasing life expectancy if everyone made a small difference.
The programme has just started but it will be a system-wide challenge to all businesses and organisations to take one or two actions which will benefit their workforce and the local community.
Why change was needed
The Health Inequalities ‘Call to Action’ was developed due to the impact of COVID and the likelihood it is to worsen health inequalities in Coventry. The Coventry Health and Wellbeing Board asked the Marmot Partnership Group to lead on work to tackle increasing gaps in health outcomes, and this resulted in the Call to Action.
It was recognised that bringing about a significant impact on increasing life expectancy and healthy life expectancy would require input from all parts of the system – public, private and voluntary organisations, and that if everyone made a small difference, together we could make a real impact across the city.
What we did
Discussions at the Place forum lead to the Call to Action programme being adopted across Coventry and Warwickshire.
The programme will be a system-wide challenge to all businesses and organisations to take one or two actions which will benefit their workforce and the local community. The initial focus is on the private sector, with Public Health working with colleagues in Economic Development and other business-facing roles to raise awareness with employers about the implications of health inequalities. They will also suggest actions that can be taken which will benefit the business as well as the wider community. Actions include things like paying the real living wage, taking a social value approach in their business, ensure they have fair working practices which don’t present barriers to certain groups, upskilling staff, and undertaking community initiatives.
We have set up a website to explain the Call to Action and give some more information about health inequalities. We will also be providing a range of resources and support for the various actions that we have suggested for businesses. We are asking that businesses sign up on our Commitment page and make a public commitment to the actions that it will take.
The main challenge when working with the private sector on the Call to Action is the language that we use and ensuring that we are communicating in ways that are meaningful and engaging to the sector. We also need to understand the drivers for businesses and present the Call to Action in a way that will be of benefit to the employer.
We have been working closely with colleagues in Economic Development and the Chamber of Commerce to ensure that our messaging is right and that we are utilising the most appropriate channels to get the Call out to the sector.
We have worked with a range of colleagues in Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council, including Economic Development teams, employer hub and major developments. We have drawn on the knowledge and experience of some of the Marmot partners, specifically the DWP and WM Police, who have offered expertise and support in some of the areas of suggested actions.
We will also be working with intermediaries who work directly with businesses, including the Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses and the LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership).
Through the system-wide Call to Action, we will be working with health organisations including the ICB and Partnership Trust, as well as a range of voluntary organisations.
We will be moving onto working with the voluntary and statutory sector organisations next, however, a number are already involved in the programme through their engagement in a range of multi-agency and cross-system groups which are examining health inequalities.
This is a very new programme which we have only just launched. It is likely that at the end of 12 months, we will carry out an evaluation to consider how many organisations have signed up and what actions have been taken. We will be attempting to understand what impact these actions have had on health inequalities across Coventry and Warwickshire, impacts can be difficult to associate with specific actions, and changes to health inequalities can take a long time to be demonstrated.