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A picture of health: an acute Trust’s core catchment

10 September 2020

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust today published its first Public Health profile which describes the broad health needs of the core population it serves. This work was supported by the Health Foundation.

Update 25 November

NHS Providers cited this as an example of best practice in a framework document issued around addressing health inequalities during Covid and beyond.

Original story:

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust today published its first Public Health profile which describes the broad health needs of the core population we serve. This work was supported by the Health Foundation.

Local authorities and NHS commissioners have access to a wide array of data about the population in their local area—hospitals however do not, generally because there is no nationally-agreed method for defining the population that a hospital or trust serves. To try to address this, the Trust’s public health term worked with Imperial College to model and define a core catchment area—this represents the area from which a significant proportion of people requiring hospital treatment will access one of the Trust’s two hospitals. We may be the first trust in England to generate this kind of catchment area, report on these local health needs, and use that to inform our planning and actions.   

Sophie Coronini-Cronberg, consultant in public health, said: “This work gives us a new perspective on the population that we serve. By developing a better understanding of the local community that is likely to use one of our hospitals, rather than just those who actually attend, we can make better decisions about how we plan and deliver services, including COVID recovery, as well as how we support local preventative efforts to keep people healthier for longer.”  

The report identifies around 620,000 people, or 1 in 14 of London’s population, who fall within the Trust’s core catchment in two large areas, each centred on one of the Trust’s sites—Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and West Middlesex University Hospital. Of course the Trust sees and treats patients outside this area as well.

The health profile shows that the Trust serves the full spectrum of needs in London with each part of the catchment encompassing highly deprived and affluent areas, and an ethnically diverse population. The population is relatively young compared to England as a whole—69% are aged 15–64. A key public health concern is the impact that health inequalities, such as those around deprivation, disability and ethnicity, are having on the lives of local people.

Sophie said: “We see wide variation in health needs across our local community. It is unfair that people living in the most deprived parts of our catchment live at least 20 fewer years in good health than those in the most affluent areas. Equally, we know that those from black and minority ethnic groups may also suffer worse health outcomes than their white neighbours, something which has really played out through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.”  

The Trust runs a number of projects addressing public health issues including smoking, dental health, alcohol harm, perinatal mental health, domestic abuse, employment opportunities for those with learning disabilities, and management of long term conditions. In publishing this profile, the public health team at the Trust hopes to strengthen work with local stakeholders to build on this existing good work.

Dominique Allwood, assistant director of improvement at the Health Foundation, said: “We are delighted to have supported this work. The NHS is at a crucial stage in its history as it begins to implement the prevention aspirations of the NHS Long Term Plan while planning its COVID recovery. It is vital for trusts to be able to understand the needs of their local population so as to better develop and implement services that can both improve health and narrow inequalities.”

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