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Health among the poor must improve at a faster rate than the general population. This means tacking ill health that...
Health among the poor must improve at a faster rate than the general population. This means tacking ill health that results from poverty where poverty occurs, said health minister John Denham, speaking at the 2nd wave Health Action Zone conference in Nottingham last week.

In areas ranging from Cornwall to Middlesborough and Bury to Brent, seven million people are to benefit from 15 new Health Action Zones covering both rural and inner city areas. The 2nd wave Zones, which were announced by Frank Dobson last year, more than doubles the number of HAZs across the country, and means that 13 million people will benefit from their local area being selected.

Health Action Zones are a key part of the government's drive in tackling health inequalities, and focusing on areas with particularly high rates of ill health, encouraging local health and social services to work closely together to tackle particular social needs of their community.

Examples of 2nd wave HAZ programmes include:

Leicester City is aiming to provide integrated services to meet the health needs of people from ethnic minorities, older people, those with mental heath problems, and parents and children. It will cover a population of 294,830.

Hull & East Riding is targeting the elderly, disabled people, community health development, and sexual health. This scheme will also specifically target smoking reduction, exercise and other health outcomes. The scheme will serve a population of 575,484.

Bury & Rochdale is targeting its proposals at people from ethnic minorities, children and elderly people. It will cover a population of 389,436.

Mr Denham went on to say:

'We are putting special effort into areas where there are high levels of deprivation, such as high unemployment rates and poor housing. But I recognise that the health service alone cannot do the job of improving people's health. Health Action Zones will enable the NHS to work closely with local government, voluntary organisations, and local businesses, to improve the quality of life in highly deprived areas.

'Today's conference enables us to learn from the work that has taken place so far. Last week I visited the Bradford Health Action Zone, and was greatly encouraged to see for myself the innovative work that was taking place in the community. A new community based diabetes service has been set up in the area through a partnership of the Health Authority, local GP's and community trusts. Today I am here to encourage such partnerships; to encourage different areas of the NHS to work together, not in competition with each other.

'This conference shows how we are trying to do things differently. I want to see HAZs and central government working in partnership, developing policies in a way that is coherent and takes account of local circumstances and realities.'


1. The creation of the Health Action Zone (HAZ) initiative was announced in Frank Dobson's speech to the NHS Confederation on 25 June 1997 where he said that the aim is 'to target a special effort on a number of areas here we believe the health of local people can be improved by better integrated arrangements for treatment and care.'

2. HAZs have three main strategic objectives:

identifying and addressing the health needs of the local area modernising services developing partnerships

3. The 11 first wave HAZs announced by Frank Dobson on 31 March 1998 are: Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham; City & East London; Plymouth (South & West Devon HA); Luton (Bedfordshire HA); Sandwell; South Yorkshire Coalfields (Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley); Manchester, Salford & Trafford; Bradford; Tyne and Wear (Sunderland, Newcastle & North Tynesde,Gateshead and South Tyneside); Northumberland

4. The 2nd wave of Health Action Zones which were announced by Frank Dobson on 11 August 1998 and formally approved by letter on 12 April are: Tees, Wakefield, Leeds, Hull and East Riding; Merseyside (St Helens & Knowsley, Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton HAs); Bury & Rochdale; Nottingham; Sheffield; Leicester City; Wolverhampton; Walsall; North Staffordshire; Cornwall; Camden and Islington; Brent (Brent and Harrow HA).

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