Oxfordshire Health and Wellbeing Board has established a Health and Inequalities Commission which will review health inequalities in Oxfordshire, and make recommendations on what actions are needed to address them.
Health inequalities are differences between people or groups owing to social, geographical, biological or other factors. These differences have a huge impact, because they result in people who are worst off experiencing poorer health and shorter lives. The causes of health inequalities are complex, and include lifestyle factors—smoking, nutrition, exercise to name only a few—as well as wider determinants such as poverty, housing and education.
Over all, Oxfordshire is an affluent county with relatively low levels of disadvantage. However, there is considerable variation across the county with some areas experiencing significant disadvantage. Two small areas in Oxfordshire are among the 10% most socially disadvantaged in England and a further 13 areas fall within the 10-20% most socially disadvantaged in England.
The Health Inequalities Commission will make recommendations for actions which could be taken to achieve sustainable reductions in health inequalities in the county. It will focus on how we can improve the delivery of health and social care functions to reduce health inequalities at all ages across the life-course. This will involve considering aspects of urban and rural living, the experiences of ethnic minority groups and of those populations living in situations of particular disadvantage such as homelessness and poor housing.
As part of the process of the Commission, evidence sessions will be held in public over the next few months providing opportunities to explore certain issues in greater depth through oral evidence.
In addition, the Commission is calling for written responses, particularly from the public.
The findings and recommendations will be reported to the Oxfordshire Health & Well Being Board in the autumn. The report will then be published for organisations to use as a basis for ongoing actions.