Our ambition to achieve health equity
Achieving health equity is about guaranteeing good health and wellbeing for all children, regardless of circumstance.
The Children and Young People’s Health Equity Collaborative (CHEC) is a partnership between Barnardo’s, the UCL Institute of Health Equity and three Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) - Birmingham and Solihull, Cheshire and Merseyside, and South Yorkshire - to shape the way ICSs create health and address health inequalities among children and young people.
The need to do this now
Health systems across the UK are facing significant challenges to meet the needs of children, young people and families and there are wide disparities in health outcomes and inequalities.
- Many health challenges and inequalities have foundations in childhood and are already evident at birth, leading to differing trajectories and outcomes across the course of a person's life.
- The social determinants of health describe the social and environmental conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, which shape and drive health outcomes. These include discriminatory practices and are driven by structural inequalities in access to money, power and resources. Unfair distribution of these resources creates avoidable health inequalities (WHO, 2008).
- Good quality, equitable and accessible healthcare is one determinant of good health but most determinants of good health lie outside of the healthcare system. These include access to good-quality living conditions, experiences and services during early childhood; good-quality education and opportunities for lifelong learning; households having sufficient income, adequate and affordable housing; and living in a connected and inclusive communities in healthy environments (Marmot, et al. 2010. Marmot, et al. 2020).
- We have known for some time that people living in more deprived circumstances have less timely access to health and care support than their peers.
- Young people and families are often not able to access services at key times of need due to long waiting lists and gaps in mental health services resulting in a huge acute cost to the system from preventable diseases and illness. These concerns are likely to rise as the 4 million children living in poverty in the UK (30% of all children) are expected to increase to 5 million by the end of the decade yet targets to reduce child poverty have been abolished (RCPCH, 2022).
Integrated Care Systems face twin challenges: making sure people in their communities are healthy, and making sure the health and care system is as effective as possible.
Integrated Care Board funding allocations are currently focused on older people and babies, who often need more medical interventions and care. However, investing in early intervention and prevention will help give babies, children and young people the best start in life, prevent ill health and prevent them being the high need service users of the future.
Barnardo’s is investing in a three-year programme to develop the tools and the solutions for this.
How we work with our partners to change the system
Launched in February 2023, the Children and Young People’s Health Equity Collaborative uses data and insight to understand the challenges facing children’s health at a local level.
The Collaborative sees action on the social determinants of health as essential in improving health outcomes among babies, children and young people and reducing inequalities in health.
Together, we have developed the Child Health Equity Framework, to underpin action for achieving greater health equity in babies, children and young people’s health and wellbeing.
The framework, which sets out the key drivers of health, will be used by our three ICS partners to guide the analysis of data and the development of indicators to assess and monitor health inequalities and support the development of interventions to improve the health and wellbeing of babies, children and young people in their local areas.
Children and young people at the heart of the Collaborative
The voice, opinions and views of children and young people are central to all the Collaborative’s work. The Child Health Equity framework has been developed with direct input from children and young people local to the three ICSs.
More than 300 children and young people across our ICS regions have shared an insight into what health means to them, sharing their lived experience and the factors which influence their lives and wellbeing. Responses from this work have allowed an understanding of the key views and priorities of children and young people involved. The findings from this engagement have been incorporated into the Child Health Equity Framework to ensure children and young people’s views and lived experiences inform and are embedded in it.
Stay up to date with our work
If you have any queries regarding the Collaborative or if you would like to receive the Health Equity Collaborative newsletter, please email [email protected].
A previous edition of the newsletter can be downloaded below.