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LONDON ORGANISATIONS CHALLENGED TO TAKE ACTION ON PRIORITY HEALTH ISSUES

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The London Health Commission has published its programme of work to 2008, outlining how key London organisations wi...
The London Health Commission has published its programme of work to 2008, outlining how key London organisations will continue to work together to improve the health of Londoners.

As part of that, the Commission announced that it is issuing four Health Challenges to stimulate action on its top priorities during the next three years.

It is urging organisations across the capital to join in action to:

�� increase the number of disabled people in employment;

�� introduce smoke-free workplace policies;

�� improve access to effective language support services for their users;

�� help improve the emotional health and well being of young Londoners.

The Commission believes that action in these four areas can make a tangible difference to the health of priority groups and contribute to the reduction of health inequalities in the capital.

Commission members, drawn from more than 20 organisations across the sectors, have already pledged their support in principle for the Challenges.

Working in partnership with a range of other organisations, the Commission will define good practice in the four Challenge areas, which members will then adopt and encourage other organisations within their spheres of influence to do likewise.

Chair of the London Health Commission, Jennette Arnold says: 'By setting out these four Health Challenges we are targeting joint action, and showing leadership, where we think it is most needed to improve Londoners' health. We urge organisations in all sectors to join forces with us and take up the Challenges. By working on these issues together we can make a real contribution to reducing unacceptable health inequalities among Londoners.'

Mary Reilly, Chair of the London Development Agency which is a London Health Commission partner, says: 'I welcome this call to action on issues which we know have a significant impact on the health and quality of life of many Londoners. I hope that other organisations will also accept the London Health Commission's Challenges as an excellent opportunity to do their bit for better health.' Work is already in motion to define specific actions and targets for the first two Challenges (increasing the number of disabled people in employment, and increasing

the number of smoke-free workplaces). The remaining two (improving access to language support services, and improving young Londoners emotional health and wellbeing) are being progressed for take up during 2007.

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone says: 'The London Health Commission has established itself as a powerful influence in encouraging organisations to work together to improve health for all Londoners. The four direct health challenges it is setting out in its programme of work to 2008 should help accelerate delivery of its broader programme, and give organisations additional opportunities to respond in new ways to address health inequalities in London.'

Organisations can find more information about the London Health Commission and the Health Challenges at www.londonshealth.gov.uk

Notes

1. The London Health Commission is a unique strategic partnership that is working to improve the health and well-being of all Londoners and to reduce inequalities in health. It promotes a co-ordinated approach to action on the factors that affect health in London by influencing policy makers and practitioners. The Commission was established by Mayor of London Ken Livingstone in October 2000 to assist him in ensuring that other London-wide strategies support the health of Londoners. For more information visit www.londonshealth.gov.uk

2. The Commission's Prospectus for 2006-08 highlights achievements during the past four years and sets out its programme and priorities for action, including the four Health Challenges, for this mayoral term. Partners have recognised the Commission as a proven way to deliver on major policy objectives and as a way to add value to their individual work.

3. Organisations represented on the London Health Commission's Executive Group are: Greater London Authority London Development Agency King's Fund Association of London Government London Health Observatory Government Office for London Regional Public Health Group, London

4. The four Health Challenges represent the Commission's highest priorities for the next three years:

Challenge 1: Increase the number of disabled people in employment

Partner organisations will significantly increase the number of disabled people in their employment by March 2008, and promote inclusive employment practices among organisations within their sphere of influence.

�� This Challenge recognises the link between ill-health and poverty and disability. �� The London Health Commission's 2003 Health in London Report found that disabled people fare worse on all seven determinants of health for which information is available, and that there are large inequalities in unemployment. It also found that 28% of disabled Londoners want to work but do not have a job.

�� A recent Labour Force Survey found that 17% of London's working age population are disabled and of these 8.5% are in work.

�� The Mayor's Economic Development Strategy for London includes an objective that the difference in employment rates between disabled and non-disabled people should be halved by 2016. Challenge

2: Introduce smoke-free workplace policies Partner organisations will introduce completely smoke-free policies in advance of any legal requirement to do so, and will encourage others within their sphere of influence to do likewise

�� This Challenge encourages partners to take decisive action to protect the health of their clients and staff by the end of 2006, responding to the overwhelming evidence of the risks to health of second hand smoke.

�� Some of the immediate effects of passive smoking include eye irritation, headache, cough, sore throat, dizziness and nausea. Adults with asthma and other respiratory conditions can experience a significant decline in lung function when exposed to smoke.

�� In the longer term, passive smokers suffer an increased risk of a range of smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer.

Challenge 3: Improve access to effective language support services Partner organisations will ensure that they are able to meet the communication needs of all of their users by providing quality language support services and will encourage others organisations within their sphere of influence to do likewise.

�� This Challenge addresses one of the key barriers to achieving equitable access to services among people with language support needs, including minority ethnic communities and deaf people.

�� The current disparate and inequitable quality of provision and access to public services as a result of different standards and practices in Language Support Services across London has been highlighted in numerous local and regional studies, including the ALG report Sick of Being Excluded.

Challenge 4: Improving the emotional health and well being of young Londoners Partner organisations will ensure that their staff are aware of and able to respond effectively to the emotional health and wellbeing needs of young Londoners, and encourage others within their sphere of influence to do likewise.

�� The London Health Commission's 2005 Health in London Report highlighted that rates of mental disorder among 5 - 15 year olds were higher in inner London than other areas of the UK, and particularly for boys aged 11-15.

�� Issues relating to 'positive emotional wellbeing' were highlighted in the Mayor's Children and Young People's Strategy, including service provision in London and the need for broader groups of workers to have better access to training in recognising the signs of mental distress in young people.

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