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Working for Health Equity: The Role of Health Professionals, Executive Summary

Those in the health sector regularly bear witness to, and must deal with, the effects of the social determinants of health on people. This report will demonstrate that the health care system and those working within it have an important and often under-utilised role in reducing health inequalities through action on the social determinants of health. The health workforce are, after all, well placed to initiate and develop services that take into account, and attempt to improve, the wider social context for patients and staff.

This report launches a new programme of activities to tackle health inequalities through action by health professionals on the social determinants of health. It draws on many examples of inspiring and excellent practice which demonstrate what can be done. The report describes areas where greater action is necessary and possible and makes some practical suggestions about how to take forward action on the social determinants of health.

The report contains recommendations and analysis in six core areas. It also contains nineteen Statements for Action about actions health professionals can take to tackle the social determinants of health through their practitioner role. These have been written by Royal Colleges and other representative organisations, and set out, for each profession, a rationale for action, practical guidance on what activities to engage in, and relevant case studies and further reading. Working with the authors of these statements, and other organisations, the Institute of Health Equity (IHE) will support and encourage health professionals to take greater action to tackle health inequalities.

The report also sets out a series of commitments made specifically for this report and future work programme, from twenty relevant organisations. These cover each of the six priority areas in this report, and display an impressive ambition to take forward action on the social determinants of health. Organisations have committed to work in partnership to implement the recommendations of this report by producing educational materials, developing new research and publications, setting up networks, embedding the social determinants of health in current work and disseminating information to health professionals.