Delivering a national seminar on tackling health inequalities


23 / 06 / 2010

The organisation

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust (SECAmb) responds to 999 calls from the public, urgent calls from healthcare professionals and in Kent and Sussex provides non-emergency patient transport services.   The trust operates across Kent, Surrey and Sussex and parts of North Hampshire. SECAmb is a large employer, having just over 3,200 staff located across 70 sites.

What we did and why

SECAmb recognised that it’s important to have a workforce which reflects the community it serves so that it can deliver clinical culturally competent care as well as ensure that it is tackling health inequalities.

The trust decided to host a seminar for ambulance trusts, which looked at tackling inequality in both workforce and service delivery. 

The aim of the seminar was:
• to bring ambulance trusts together so that they could meet, talk and share best practice around their role in tackling health inequalities
• to raise the profile of the role that the ambulance service can and does play in tackling health inequalities and thus inform  future policy and action
• to show what can be achieved by working in partnership and bringing together such a diverse range of participants
• to work with other trusts to embrace the challenges and seize the opportunities that will help take forward emergent thinking from the seminar.

How we did it

The seminar was put together by working in partnership, it was jointly hosted by the South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust, with ASPIRE the trust’s BME staff equality network and the BME national committee of the Ambulance Service Network.

The trust’s equality and diversity lead consulted with BME and disabled staff on the design, content and format of the event.  Discussions were also held with NHS Employers to look at gaps in debate, policy and best practice.  The aim was to cover new ground, whilst also disseminate existing best practice and revalidated old ideas.

The diversity of staff and experience and interest meant that it was crucial to provide a forum that enabled people to engage in ways that were tailored around them. 

The event was facilitated by staff with working knowledge and experience of the ambulance service. It was crucial to enable those attending to participate in a genuine debate.

The seminar included interactive sessions, opportunities for networking and small group sessions, using a focus group approach.  An ideas market ‘The Agora,’ where third sector partners shared their projects and products was included as a central point.

A community artist and facilitator captured comments and ideas in pictorial form. The images included in the final report – were selected by delegates as having the most resonance for them.

An anonymous electronic voting system – with questions having been independently designed and validated was used to capture delegates thoughts and feedback during the event.

The results and next steps

The event was intended for 55 people, but on the day attracted 85 delegates.  Testament to the fact that people not only want to see service improvements and change, but also want to be part of making that change happen.

Delegates from across the SECAmb area and UK heard from a range of speakers including:
• Paul Sutton, CEO of SECAmb, Chair of the Diversity Forum of the Ambulance Service Network
• Professor Carol Baxter CBE from NHS Employers, who is herself a Professor of Midwifery
• Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Tim Ojo from Sussex Partnerships
• Mr. Anim, a Consultant Obstetrician and expert on CVD (cardiovascular disease) in pregnancy
• Lynda Brooks, Department of Health Programme Director for Pacesetters, a partnership between local communities who experience health inequalities, the NHS and the Department of Health.

The seminar examined a range of issues and looked at what the role of the ambulance service should be in tackling health inequalities.  The resulting report has also provided a means of identifying the issues that need to be taken into account as well as prioritising issues of concern.

The event has been used as the basis of consultation to refine and deliver projects intended to address health inequalities in end of life care and stroke.

The significant achievement of this event was to bring those who are influential in the field of tackling health inequalities, together with ambulance staff committed to change.

“The seminar provided an ideal opportunity for people to discuss how health inequalities should best be tackled and how equality and diversity should be promoted within the health service; it also offered support on what we can do to remove inequalities in service design and service delivery.” Jagtar Singh OBE Seminar Rapporteur, Member of the Diversity Forum, ASN Luton and Dunstable Hospital

Contact details

Alexandra Ankrah – Equality and Diversity Lead, South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust, 07500-785150

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