MI Health discusses with MPs preliminary Midlands Health and Care Inequalities findings

Findings and recommendations from a Policy Commission examining health and care inequalities across the Midlands have been exclusively revealed to members of the Midlands Engine All-Party Parliamentary Group, ahead of the report’s publication.

The Midlands Health and Care Inequalities Policy Commission, led by Midlands Innovation Health with support from the Midlands Engine Partnership, is expected to publish its findings shortly following an intensive period of community and stakeholder involvement. This focused on gathering a broad range of input from community groups, patient and public involvement forums and those with lived experience of health inequalities to understand the reality that citizens across the Midlands are facing when it comes to accessing health and care services.

The Commission’s Chair, Lord Victor Adebowale CBE, along with Jo Gideon, Conservative MP for Stoke Central and Alex Norris, Labour MP for Nottingham North (who are both part of the 15 strong team of Commissioners) and the report’s author, Midlands Innovation Health’s Project Manager, Alex Archibald, met with MPs and Peers of the Midlands Engine APPG to discuss how health inequalities in the region can be overcome.

As part of the meeting, key findings of the report were shared showing the scale of the issue and the areas where the East and West Midlands have some of the worst inequalities in the country.

Sir John Peace, Chairman of Midlands Engine, discussed with the APPG how the Midlands lags behind other parts of the UK in productivity, and how this cannot be solved without increasing the health, both mental and physical, of people in the Midlands. He also highlighted statistics from a roundtable report he chaired (the Midlands Diabetes Blueprint) examining the prevalence of those suffering with diabetes in the region. Critically, Sir John raised the need for the clinical and health expertise present within the Midlands to play a key role in addressing these concerns.

Lord Adebowale shared with the APPG that whilst there are pockets of excellence transforming care they need to do more to share learnings pan-regionally. To truly address health and care inequalities requires the development of a clear regional strategy with the buy-in and support of leaders in the NHS, local authorities and other organisations working across the range of health and care settings. The Policy Commission representatives discussed the role MPs could have in helping to convene leaders in their own constituencies and across the region to work together to create this strategy and to address the key priorities for change that the report, when published, will recommend. They also drew attention to areas where MPs could work to influence policy changes nationally.

In addition to the challenges and Commission recommendations, APPG members also considered the opportunities highlighted as part of the report. The discussion focused on leveraging the Midlands’ scientific excellence, cutting-edge facilities (including the second-largest clinical trials infrastructure in Europe) and leading data assets to become a global testbed for inclusive clinical trials, AI and data-driven innovation. By closely integrating both industry and the region’s large, diverse population, this activity would not only boost patient participation in cutting-edge trials, but allow the Midlands to create jobs and boost the economy, all of which is proven to help improve people’s health. 

Co-Chair of the Midlands Engine APPG, Jane Hunt MP, who chaired the discussion, asked a number of questions of the Policy Commission representatives and highlighted the importance of the report, which she requested be shared with all MPs from the region.

Lord Adebowale, Chair of the Health and Care Inequalities Policy Commission, said: “Creating and prioritising change is vital to the physical and mental health of our communities. It is not just those that are living in the most deprived areas who experience discrimination and are suffering the worst health inequalities, the disparities are widespread throughout the large and diverse population in the Midlands. If we do not have a healthy population, then the productivity challenge can never be solved.

“I am delighted that we were able to share the findings of the Midlands Health and Care Inequalities Policy Commission with Midlands MPs and Peers and to discuss how Midlands organisations can better work together to tackle the region’s health inequalities hand-in-hand with communities.”

Jane Hunt MP, Co-Chair of the Midlands Engine APPG, said: “Health inequalities are an increasingly pressing issue in our region, so I welcome this vital work from the Midlands Health and Care Inequalities Policy Commission exploring how to improve outcomes for our communities.

“I look forward to the report’s full release and to working with Midlands Innovation Health as they work with partners to drive the necessary change to tackle inequalities across the region.” 

Sir John Peace, Chairman of Midlands Engine said: “The UK and the Midlands find ourselves in the middle of an unprecedented economic challenge, with global shocks and the rising cost-of-living affecting people throughout our society.

“Health inequalities only complicate these challenges, worsening people’s quality of life and slowing down productivity. This policy commission marks a hugely important first step towards closing this gap, identifying how our region’s huge pre—existing expertise can work in collaboration with our people and communities to improve health outcomes throughout the Midlands.”

Published 9 June 2023