What can local authorities achieve by improving access to health and social care services for people who do not routinely use them?

Meet public health responsibilities through local leadership

Local authorities promote, commission and manage a wide range of public services. By building on the links already in place with local health and social care providers, local authorities are well positioned to improve public health outcomes for the local population. They can do this through leadership, sharing of local intelligence and identifying and working with relevant NHS and community services to improve access to services (A short guide to health and wellbeing boards).

Deliver inclusive services with a positive impact on people and communities

By identifying public health priorities according to the demographic profile of local communities and providing services to those who need them most, local authorities will help address health inequalities and satisfy public sector obligations under the Equality Act 2010.

By consulting with local health champions and people who do not routinely use services, local authorities can identify barriers to mainstream services (including cultural and behavioural barriers). Local authorities can then offer new ways of supporting people who do not routinely use services to access them.

Deliver early intervention

Disadvantage can start before birth and accumulate through life (Chief Medical Officer's annual report 2012). By delivering early interventions through accessible health and social care provision, local authorities can help improve the health and wellbeing of young children and their families (Bright futures: local children, local approaches). Reducing the risk of poor health outcomes (Public Health Outcomes Framework, England), including the risk of dying prematurely (NHS Outcomes Framework 2013 to 2014), is a matter of fairness and social justice, which local authorities are ideally placed to promote (Fair society healthy lives).

Protect the public's health

People who do not routinely use health and social care services are diverse and may include people who are homeless or vulnerable migrants who may be at increased risk of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis (Tuberculosis control in vulnerable groups). Additionally, children from some unreached groups, for example travellers or those from families that don't speak English as a first language, are at risk of not being fully immunised from childhood infections such as meningitis C and measles (Reducing differences in the uptake of immunisations). Local authorities can implement targeted interventions that reach local people who do not access existing services.

Prevent ill health and premature mortality

Many people may not register with a GP or may be reluctant or unable (because of caring commitments) to attend GP surgeries to have their symptoms diagnosed. In Birmingham, for example, GP data suggested that the prevalence of coronary heart disease among people from ethnic groups in the most deprived communities is relatively low compared with other areas in the city. However, data from the Office of National Statistics show that cardiovascular disease mortality is relatively high in these deprived communities. The discrepancy between these figures suggests that people in these areas either do not register with a GP, or are reluctant to attend GP surgeries to have their symptoms diagnosed (Healthy lives: healthy people 2011).