Yesterday, Monday 7th January 2018, NHS England published the NHS Long Term Plan. The plan sets out the strategy for the NHS over the next ten years and includes ambitions for the NHS to increase its contribution to tackling some of the most significant causes of ill health, with a particular focus on the communities and groups of people most affected by these problems.
Along with our colleagues on the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance, we have been working with policy leads at NHS England through the development of the Long Term Plan to ensure that it brings about real change for the communities and individuals experiencing the harshest health inequalities and levels of unmet need in England.
We are pleased to see that the plan has committed to take stronger action on tackling health inequalities and to set out specific, measurable goals for narrowing inequalities through the service improvements set out in the Long Term Plan. We are pleased to see that support will be offered to local planning and national programmes to ensure that they are focused on health inequality reduction.
Will the NHS England Long Term Plan improve the lives of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities?
Whilst the plan contains specific commitments to many of the groups recognised as experiencing inequalities in England, we are concerned that there is no specific commitment to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. We know that Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities face some of the most severe health inequalities amongst the UK population, even when compared with other socially deprived or excluded groups, and with other ethnic minorities. Over the coming months, we will seek to ascertain how this will be addressed in the execution of the plan.
Whilst we welcome the NHS commitment to set out specific, measurable goals for narrowing inequalities, we are concerned that in the absence of routine data collection by the NHS on Gypsies, Roma and Travellers that these communities are at risk of being overlooked in the process. It is vital that NHS England puts in place mechanisms to ensure that local planning and national programmes are held accountable for their work in addressing inequalities in ALL communities, not only for those where there is NHS data available. We will be offering our assistance to partners in the health and social care system in the coming months to support this process.
We are pleased to see that support will be offered to local planning and national programmes to ensure that they are focused on health inequality reduction. We hope to inform and take part in this process. We are committed to supporting members of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and members of the voluntary sector to engage in this process.
We welcome the commitments in the plan to address inequalities in diabetes, multi morbidity and maternal care in BAME communities, as well as a commitment to extend the work of the Workforce Race Equality Standard to 2025. We will be working over the coming months to ensure that Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities are included in these programmes and the voices of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities help to influence it.
Responding to the launch of the NHS England Long Term Plan, Sarah Sweeney, Communications and Health Policy Co-ordinator at Friends Families and Travellers said:
“We are pleased to see that a commitment to addressing health inequalities has been given a prominent place in the NHS Long Term Plan. It is vital that NHS England takes steps to understand and address the specific health inequalities faced by Gypsies, Roma and Travellers across each area of the plan if we are to see real change and improvements in the lives of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in England. We will be encouraging and supporting this process over the coming months and want to urge our colleagues at NHS England to be bold, to be ambitious and to be open to working in new ways.”
Notes for Editor
About Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT)
Friends, Families and Travellers is a leading national charity that works on behalf of all Gypsies, Roma and Travellers regardless of ethnicity, culture or background.
Lucy Hetherington, Communications Officer
Tel: 01273 234 777 Email: [email protected]