Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust tackle healthcare inequalities and unemployment

Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust is developing innovative approaches to tackle unemployment and healthcare inequalities.

The Anchor Programme focuses on large organisations investing back into their communities and as a major employer in the region, the trust is taking part. The initiative aims to help people gain access to employment with skills, capability and support to come back into the employment market in the NHS.

Recently, Dr Bola Owolabi from NHS England visited the Anchor Programme in Southend and Basildon to see some of the services tackling health inequalities firsthand.

Firstly, Dr Owolabi visited the South Essex Community Hub (SECH) in Southend, which aims to empower local people to realise their potential through digital support, in-person counselling and volunteering opportunities. Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust works with SECH and other partners to support people living in deprived parts of the area to secure employment at Southend Hospital or another local healthcare organisation.

Dr Owolabi described how the hub is “supporting people from the community and beyond to be able to access employment support… to be able to come back to the employment market, particularly within the NHS. Health inequalities are not simply about healthcare inequalities in terms of sickness and disease.” She highlighted how these inequalities are also driven “really powerfully by the social determinants of health, particularly employment or the lack of it.”

At Basildon Hospital, a supported internship programme has been piloted for young people with learning disabilities or autism. The programme is run in partnership with South Essex College and seeks to prepare students for a successful transition from school into work.

Finally, Dr Owolabi visited Essex Youth Service and heard from young people who have used Basildon Hospital’s emergency department. The trust is working with Essex County Council to place youth workers in the emergency departments so that they can engage with young people presenting with vulnerabilities, including around mental health, to support them in accessing the services they require.

The trust will base the success on the programme on a number of factors, including reduction in the inequalities in life expectancies, children achieving educational attainment, and residents reporting good levels of access to health services.

Watch the video below to find out more.