The NHS Alliance has warned that the UK is lagging well behind others in placing enough emphasis on preventative health, which could ultimately stand in the way of improving health inequalities across the nation.

The organisation stressed that, particularly in the current difficult economic climate, the only way to diminish health inequalities is to better the health of individuals and communities and encourage people to take care of their own well-being.

However, it claims that “a lack of engagement from frontline clinicians in community health, little or no funding, and an NHS that is risk adverse and fails to inspire the local population and its professionals” means that far from improving health inequalities the divide will only deepen.

According to Dr Dixon, NHS Alliance chairman: “We need to encourage a local health revolution and support innovative projects that inspire and engage local people and health professionals,” but for that to happen primary care trusts much allocate a proportion of their cash for such health initiatives, he said.

In order to help paint a better picture of health for the nation, the organisation suggests that PCTs pass on 5%-10% of their overall budget to practice-based commissioners to be spent on health initiatives. In addition, innovation must be encouraged, it said, calling for support for new initiatives that are cost-effective and locally tailored rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

Calls for a health revolution
Finally, it argues that the government, Department of Health, PCTs, medical and other organisations, such as the NHS Alliance, “must enthuse and inspire clinicians in their new health role”, and foster a climate in which there is direct contact with local authorities and others to mount a “health revolution” at local level, “which has been prevented by endless piles of national and local health documents that are never read or make any sense to local professionals and people”.

“We are all producers of health,” Dixon said, pointing out that it is not just the remit of directors of public health or health trainers. “We must now mainstream it in the psyche of every health professional and member of the public, encourage and enable them to achieve better health and be prepared to fund and support those who are at the leading edge. Only then, will we have given health a chance and only then will we overcome the inequalities that look set to become even greater in a cold economic climate,” he stressed.