UCL’s Professor Sir Michael Marmot launches UK’s first health equity network

As the government fails to address the UK’s health crisis the world-leading public health specialist, Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Director, UCL Institute of Health Equity, launches a country-wide network to help towns, cities and regions build back fairer.

Health Equity Network (HEN),  which begins on 24 January, 2023, is in partnership with Legal & General, and attempts to ease health-related crises, including rising child poverty, increasing health inequalities and falling life expectancy.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot CH,  who was conferred the prestigious Companion of Honour by His Majesty the King in this year’s New Years Honours for his life-time achievement in public health, said: "Society is not working for 40% of people in England: almost one in three (31%) children are living in poverty - that’s 4.3 million children, that are being failed; the cost-of-living crisis means people can’t afford to eat or heat their home; and those working in the public sector are being told they have to work for less money. The impact on health is catastrophic - we know what to do and many places are taking the initiative in the face of national government inaction."

The HEN aims to roll out practical solutions to reduce health inequalities, which were laid out in the Marmot Review ’ Fair Society, Healthy Lives’ in 2010, in the 2020 Marmot Review 10 Years On and again during the pandemic in Build Back Fairer.

IHE has worked with over 30 local authorities to provide detailed practical ways forward to reduce health inequalities. The local authorities are taking action despite the lack of government support, funding cuts and the cost-of-living crisis.

The network seeks to bring together organisations and communities across the country to connect and collaborate with those working towards similar health equity goals. Local authorities, businesses, voluntary sectors and communities are already taking the initiative to provide vital support to reduce health inequalities, and the HEN will give them - and individual members - an opportunity to share their work and engage with others on a national level.

Sir Michael added: "We would like national government to reduce child poverty and reverse the fall in life expectancy in poorer areas. There is little sign of it happening. The network though enables cities and regions to share knowledge and experience on their work with local government, healthcare, housing, the criminal justice system, fire and rescue services, education, community groups and business to engage all these sectors to improve the conditions of life, which will translate into better life and narrower health inequalities."

John Godfrey, Director of Levelling Up at Legal & General, said: "National government and the NHS demonstrably cannot solve this problem unaided. There is a huge and complementary role for business, both as employers and providers of goods and services, as well as for local government and the third sector.  Our work with Sir Michael Marmot aims to uncover synergies across these sectors, strengthen the research base and foster best practice.  That way we can bring vital investment to bear on the social causes of health inequalities and drive better outcomes."