The wider determinants of health are well understood as large contributing factors to a person’s health. However for professionals working across health and care settings – as well as wider public services – putting the theory into practice has not always been so easy to achieve.
Whilst the ambition for cross-system interventions does exist, operating structures and silo working often act as a barrier to change. The very nature of the wider determinants of health means that it is very difficult for one part of the system to address alone; it requires collaboration and joined-up working.
The release of ‘Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all’ White Paper is an important milestone in the journey towards tackling the wider determinants of health. The paper sets out a framework for improved integrated care, which will take a systems-wide approach to health – shifting the conversation from the provision of ‘good healthcare’ to creating the right environments for ‘good health’.
This is not to take away from the achievements of both grassroots and national initiatives that already demonstrate system-wide collaboration as a way to influence better health outcomes for local populations. Examples include Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership, the NHS Healthy New Towns programme and The Wigan Deal.
However to put the wider determinants of health more into everyday practice for all communities, it will be the further roll-out of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) and a clear definition of responsibilities that will be the real gamechanger.
Bringing together health, social care, public health (and potentially representatives from the wider public space where appropriate, such as social care providers or housing providers) the ICS Health and Care Partnership will be responsible for developing plans that address the wider health, public health, and social care needs of the system.
The opportunities of collaboration are clear. But how systems now seize this opportunity to influence the wider determinants of health will be interesting to see. What role will you play in turning the theory into practice? What changes would have the biggest impact on health for your local population?
To find out more about the Wider Determinants of Health in practice, don’t miss our upcoming event on 28 April 2021. This 5-hour introductory event will bring together leaders and practitioners from across health and care, local and central government, education and housing to explore the core social, cultural, political, economic, commercial and environmental factors that influence health. Book your place to broaden your thinking and discover new ways to better influence Population Health in your community.
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