Bedford Borough Windrush descendents help secure £200,000 to tackle health inequalities

Doctor's desk and stethoscope. Image: Summit Art Creations/Shutterstock
Image: Summit Art Creations/Shutterstock

Four Healthwatch groups covering Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes have each been allocated £50,000 to help tackle health inequalities, during the current financial year.

The money has been made available from the BLMK integrated care board (ICB) health inequalities budget. It follows an in-depth review on the subject by Luton pastor, the Reverend Lloyd Denny.

Windrush descendents in Bedford Borough called on Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to take urgent action in 2020 to reduce health inequalities and to prevent future pandemics from impacting their community, according to a report to Luton Borough Council’s health and wellbeing board.

“The Reverend Denny’s three-year review aimed to better understand the lived experiences of health inequalities and identify solutions to tackle this matter head on,” said the report.

“He invited trusted advocates from community groups and Healthwatch to lead engagement with residents. More than 2,000 people’s voices from across our area were heard.

“At the heart of the Denny Review is a focus on personalised care, and how patients like to receive support from trained health professionals in accordance with their preferences, beliefs, cultural values and lived experiences.

“Among those most impacted were:

the local population who live in areas of deprivation;
gipsies, Irish Travellers and Roma people;
LGBT people;
residents with learning and physical disabilities;
and anyone who lives with homelessness.
“This independent report into health inequalities by the Reverend Denny contained a series of recommendations for consideration by BLMK ICB and system partners,” explained the report.

“The review highlighted four themes for action, which were access (to health services), communication (with health staff), representation and cultural competency, referred to as ‘understanding others’.

“Its recommendations were categorised into short-term and medium- or long-term by the Reverend Denny, recognising that some changes could be made more quickly than others.

“Delivering the positive cultural change sought by the review will take many years of building trust with residents.”

The ICB Board agreed in December 2024 to allocate dedicated coordination resource to provide a system-level support function for responding to the Denny recommendations, added the report.

“This is in a way that builds on current initiatives, maximises the value of the whole system, and coordinates and reports on the investment in Healthwatch and voluntary, community or social enterprise (VCSE) initiatives to respond to the review.

“Interim chief executive of the East London Foundation NHS Trust Lorraine Sunduza was appointed as a board-level champion for the system-wide response to the review.

“The ICB also approved publishing an annual statement of progress on how the BLMK system is tackling inequalities and responding to the Denny recommendations.”

The Reverend Denny sets out in his review how limited translation and interpretation services can and are having a detrimental impact on care.

It was agreed by the ICB that key partners, including in primary care, NHS provider trusts and the VCSE, should scope a system-wide translation service.

This work is supported by all four BLMK Healthwatch organisations, and funding of £50,000 per healthwatch has been allocated in this financial year. The board noted the progress the ICB has made in responding to the review.

by Euan Duncan
Local Democracy Reporter

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