Health inequalities are unfair and avoidable differences in the health of people across social and population groups.
We have held community events about health inequalities in the past to raise awareness of the issues and monitor progress in tackling them. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown we have all had to learn to do things in new ways, including services that try to tackle health inequalities by reaching out to different communities.
What we did
At our Assembly event on 29th September, we heard updates from people at NHS Wandsworth and Wandsworth Council Public Health department about their work on health inequalities. You can read more about this here.
We then hosted four workshops, where speakers presented and discussed some of the practical issues and solutions to health inequalities including:
- Digital health and care appointments.
- Healthwatch Wandsworth’s work around community information and communications.
- Community Led Health Clinics to support managing and staying well with a long-term condition.
- Talk Wandsworth’s work around mental health.
What we were told
People stressed that during the pandemic, it was even more important to reach out to different people in different ways. The way information is presented should be adapted for different groups.
The move away from face to face meetings and appointments to more use of the telephone, smartphones and computers has been a positive experience for some, but we need to be aware of differing needs and circumstances.
Reliance on technology can have an impact of people because of issues such as personal finances, privacy concerns, lack of confidence and understanding of the technology, the array of different apps and platforms, and how to provide access to written information.
Digital exclusion is a real issue which can contribute to health inequality. Alternatives to using the internet need to be included.
People working in public health and the NHS in Wandsworth took part in the discussions and are able to take on board what was discussed. We will also share this report with them.
Healthwatch Wandsworth is working closely with the Patient and Public Engagement Manager at NHS Wandsworth. The suggestions and ideas in this report will inform our future work on health inequalities.