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Health Services: Disadvantaged

Health written question – answered on 7th July 2011.

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Photo of Andrew George Andrew George Liberal Democrat, St Ives

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps (a) HealthWatch, (b) health and wellbeing boards and (c) Public Health England will take to ensure that (i) homeless people and (ii) other excluded and disadvantaged groups are a priority in the NHS.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns The Minister of State, Department of Health

The Government have made tackling health inequalities a priority as part of their commitment to fairness and social justice. Subject to the parliamentary process, Local HealthWatch organisations will be the local consumer voice for patients and the public. Local HealthWatch organisations will be inclusive and reflect the views and experiences of its diverse communities. For the local health and wellbeing boards forthcoming guidance on the Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategies, there will be an emphasis on the need to look at the health and care needs of the whole population including vulnerable groups such as rough sleepers.

In addition, the new Public Health England will have an important role in working with local government, the NHS and other agencies in reducing inequalities—by identifying actions to tackle the wider determinants of health and well-being and by enabling and supporting individuals and communities to improve their own health. The Health and Social Care Bill gives the Secretary of State a clear statutory duty to have regard to the need to reduce health inequalities between the people of England and the new role will place public health at the heart of the wider central Government agenda for the first time.

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