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Chamber Chat with Professor Andy Schofield

Working together to solve health inequalities.

I very much enjoyed attending a distinguished speaker event at Lancaster University Medical School last week. The discussion question “Health and care systems, policy and leadership: Where do we go next?” was tackled by our Chancellor, and former Secretary of State for Health, The Right Honourable Alan Milburn and Lancashire’s Director of Public Health, Dr Sakthi Karunanithi. The conversation was extremely thought provoking.

This discussion lasted around an hour and the two expert speakers ranged across a wide range of topics, and covered political, financial, fiscal and sociological matters. The interface between science, medicine, public health, finances, AI, and the NHS proved to be a fascinating discussion. An audience that consisted mainly of healthcare professionals and academics listened with rapt attention.

I write this here, in the chamber chat, because the discussion frequently touched on productivity, and finding ways to encourage an “economically active” population. Neither speaker especially liked the term “Economically Inactive” but both experts recognised the importance of helping people to feel productive, and of supporting those who are managing complex health conditions to make an active contribution. In particular, they discussed the importance of empowering this at a local level joined up with incentives to make an immediate impact. In light of our Prime Minister’s focus on this area, this is clearly a current “hot topic”.    We know that the answer to so many of these thorny problems can only be solved by collaboration between many different organisations. That is why it is so important for us at Lancaster University to continue to engage with businesses, charities, and in public engagement.  We value our core purpose of academic work, our teaching and research but as we head into our University’s sixtieth anniversary celebrations and into the second quarter of the 21st Century we need to strive, together, to find collective solutions to the nation’s health inequalities and the future wellbeing of the public, which will require even greater collaboration between all sectors of the local economy.