In 2014 the Margaret Westhead Inquiry Panel into Health Equity in the North of England delivered their report. The Due North Report revealed that the North of England suffers from significantly lower investment in public health and poorer health outcomes compared to other English regions.

Whilst the North of England is home to about 30% of the English population, the region contains around half of the poorest neighbourhoods in England. Liverpool, in particular, is a metropolitan area in the North of England that has some of the worst health outcomes, for adults as well as children.

On the 21st May 2018 we invited three experts in public health to a round table discussion with a public audience as part of the Festival of Ideas at Edge Hill University.  This public event was hosted by the Institute for Public Policy and Professional Practice (I4P), in association with PGMI and the Faculty of Health and Social Care.

Participants were Prof David Taylor-Robinson (Professor of Public Health and Policy at University of Liverpool), Susan Forster (Director of Public Health at St Helens Council) and Andrew Woods (Lead of the Statutory Accountability Service for Merseyside CCGs).

They each gave a presentation on the main challenges of public health for both adult and children populations in the Merseyside area and then elaborated on the difficulties the region faced in improving health care outcomes.

In a question and answer with the audience, several touchpoints of agreement emerged. The first one was that local authorities had taken a significant cut in public spending over the last decade which had impacted on population health and the capacity of public services to respond adequately to the needs of patients.

The second point of agreement was around the need for long term service planning to improve health, in particular the positive effects of investing in children’s health at an early stage. Last but not least, there was a consensus that the problems had to be tackled in partnership with all relevant organisations, with services collaborating to deliver effective and timely care to patients. As local authorities and the NHS are looking towards the next decade, new solutions to the persistent health problems of the region have to be found.

Watch the discussion event here: YouTube

Dr Axel Kaehne is Reader in Health Service Research and I4P Associate Director (Operations) here at Edge Hill University.