A Picture of Health

Sophie Coronini-Cronberg, NIHR ARC NWL Implementation Lead and Consultant in Public Health at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, published the Trust’s first public health profile in September 2020 describing the broad health needs of the trusts core population.

Local authorities and NHS commissioners have access to a wide array of data about the population in their local area—hospitals however do not, generally because there is no nationally-agreed method for defining the population that a hospital or trust serves. To try to address this, the Trust’s public health term worked with Imperial College to model and define a core catchment area—this represents the area from which a significant proportion of people requiring hospital treatment will access one of the Trust’s two hospitals.

Addressing health inequalities

Cited by NHS Providers as an example of best practice in a framework document focussed on addressing health inequalities during COVID and beyond. The report identifies around 620,000 people, or 1 in 14 of London’s population, who fall within the Trust’s core catchment in two large areas, each centred on one of the Trust’s sites—Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and West Middlesex University Hospital.

“This work gives us a new perspective on the population that we serve. By developing a better understanding of the local community that is likely to use one of our hospitals, rather than just those who actually attend, we can make better decisions about how we plan and deliver services, including COVID recovery, as well as how we support local preventative efforts to keep people healthier for longer.” - Sophie Coronini-Cronberg.

The health profile shows that the Trust serves the full spectrum of needs in London with each part of the catchment encompassing highly deprived and affluent areas, and an ethnically diverse population. The population is relatively young compared to England as a whole—69% are aged 15–64. A key public health concern is the impact that health inequalities, such as those around deprivation, disability and ethnicity, are having on the lives of local people.

'It is unfair'

Sophie said: “We see wide variation in health needs across our local community. It is unfair that people living in the most deprived parts of our catchment live at least 20 fewer years in good health than those in the most affluent areas. Equally, we know that those from black and minority ethnic groups may also suffer worse health outcomes than their white neighbours, something which has really played out through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Dominique Allwood, assistant director of improvement at the Health Foundation, said: “We are delighted to have supported this work. The NHS is at a crucial stage in its history as it begins to implement the prevention aspirations of the NHS Long Term Plan while planning its COVID recovery. It is vital for trusts to be able to understand the needs of their local population so as to better develop and implement services that can both improve health and narrow inequalities.”

Nationally significant report

Since the publication of this report, NHS England and other NHS Trusts have been in contact with Sophie Coronini-Cronberg with an interest to have this model replicated at other locations across the UK. This work links closely to past work Sophie and other members of ARCs works that has published in the past highlighting health inequalities.