An Equal Partnership to tackle health inequalities in the North West

7 September 2009

NHS North West today launches An Equal Partnership, providing practical advice and guidance for NHS organisations on how best to consult with and involve all equality target groups, including men and women, trans people, Black and ethnic minorities, lesbians and gay men, and disabled people. The ultimate aim is to tackle health inequalities by ensuring that the NHS truly understands the needs of all sectors of the community, and provides services which are accessible to, and appropriate for, all groups in society. This groundbreaking initiative has been developed by the forward-thinking NHS North West and other organisations are being urged to follow suit.

An Equal Partnership provides guidance on consulting that goes way beyond just asking people what they think. It shows how to make active, rather than passive, use of voluntary and community groups (the ‘third sector’) through formal agreements supported by appropriate funding, which allows time for proper consultation with other interested parties, and is packed with quick reference tables and appendices of useful information such as the details of national organisations.

This approach grew out of a growing recognition of the wealth of expertise and knowledge in the third sector, and how the NHS could harness this by working in partnership with third sector organisations.  The result is the ‘Health Equality Stakeholder Engagement’ model on which An Equal Partnership is based.

Photograph of Shahnaz Ali"This way of working means that everyone benefits – the NHS gains access to groups we would otherwise struggle to reach, while the third sector receives support and funding for their valuable work.  Since the economic downturn, it has become even more important that the public sector develops partnerships with voluntary and community groups and ensures they are sustainable, so we don’t lose their wealth of experience and contacts.’"
Shahnaz Ali
Associate Director for Equality, Diversity and Human Rights
NHS North West

 Photograph of Peter Baker

“This consultation process is streets ahead of what’s happening everywhere else. We wrote to every NHS region in the country offering to talk to them about gender equality issues but didn’t get much response until NHS North West came to us.”

Peter Baker
Chief Executive
Men's Health Forum

 Photograph of Paul Martin

“We warmly welcome this approach to community involvement and consultation within the often complex and ever changing public policy landscape. This way of working enables the opportunity for real engagement with real communities, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to all public authorities thinking about engaging meaningfully with their own residents.”
Paul Martin
Chief Executive
Lesbian and Gay Foundation



An Equal Partnership can be accessed via HELP (click here), and is also available on the NHS North West website at the following address:

Updated: 8 September 2009