How the Population Health Board is changing lives and tackling health inequalities

Cheshire and Merseyside’s Population Health Board, which is made up of partners from across the public sector, works together with regional and national colleagues to a run a series of Programmes designed to improve health and increase life expectancy.

One of the many benefits of innovations in healthcare is that we are now living longer, however, not everyone remains healthy in this older age, which places a considerable burden on the health and care system.

The way we live our lives every day – how much we eat, how much we move, if we smoke or drink too much – has a significant impact on our overall health, which can create an even greater impact the older we get.

There is no quick fix to population health. In order to live a long, happy, healthy life, people need to get into good habits when they’re younger and keep them up for their entire lives.

However, it shouldn’t be up to the individual to do this all on their own. We know that, due to structural inequalities, not everyone has the same start in life, and that where we live can shave up to ten years from our life expectancy.

The fundamental principles of the work of the Population Health Board in Cheshire and Merseyside is to tackle these inequalities and encourage a culture of prevention – giving people the tools to live a healthy lifestyle so that they don’t have to worry about heart attacks, diabetes, liver disease, or any other medical complication that is the result of ill health.

This is also a huge area of focus for the Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership, the subregion’s Integrated Care System. The Partnership’s Executive Director of Strategy and System Development, Professor Sarah O’Brien, is working closely with the entire health and care system, including local authorities, to ensure that the system works together to create meaningful change for local communities.

Marmot Community

The work taking place right now for Cheshire and Merseyside to become a Marmot Community will lay the foundations for a fairer, healthier society.

Currently, Sir Michael’s team at the Institute of Health Equity is engaging with each local area in Cheshire and Merseyside to understand more about who lives there and what the specific challenges facing that area are. From that, the team will create a series of local objectives that will focus directly on inequalities and what needs to change to allow local people to access more opportunities to live healthier lives.

For the subregion to benefit from the expertise and insight from Sir Michael and his team of academics is incredibly positive, and has been able to happen due to the passion and determination of those within the local system who understand the vital importance of this work.

Population Health Programmes

The Population Health Board oversees a number of Programmes that are led by the Champs Public Health Collaborative and include input from a range of partners from the health and care system, including local authorities, the NHS and Public Health England.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has further exacerbated the need for these Programmes to be a success, this work has taken on new forms and has created a wealth of positive outcomes. Five examples of the success of the subregion’s Population Health Programmes are…

  1. The Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Programme ran a heart disease awareness campaign, as part of the Happy Hearts brand, that was targeted to areas of deprivation and poor health outcomes. The digital campaign was hugely successful, with over 10,000 engagements and a reach of 1.3 million.
  2. The Reducing Harm from Alcohol Programme has been working closely with the subregion’s Alcohol Care Teams, which provide specialist interventions and input into the care of alcohol dependent patients admitted to hospitals, to ensure a consistent approach across the patch and to develop a competencies framework that is consistent for each team, meaning that wherever you are in Cheshire and Merseyside, you get the same level of support.
  3. The Antimicrobial Resistance Programme has worked with local medicines management teams to support GP Practices to decrease their level of antibiotic prescriptions and enable the sharing of learning across the subregion.
  4. The Physical Activity Programme has created incredibly close links with Active Cheshire and the Merseyside Sports Partnership to support the development of a subregional Physical Activity Strategy. This place-based strategy to improve physical activity levels across all ages aims to create more opportunities to get people moving as part of their day to day lives. For example, the workforce development programme Live Longer Better helps to change the culture and language of supporting older adults to improve their quality of life by using physical activity to reduce the impact of long-term health conditions.
  5. The Suicide Prevention and Bereavement Programme launched a campaign to promote the Stay Alive app, which resulted in a 115% increase in uptake compared to the previous year, with over 4800 downloads in 10 weeks.

Introducing Jo

The Collaborative has welcomed Jo McCullagh to the Champs Support Team. Jo is a final year Specialist Registrar in Public Health. She will be working with Cheshire and Merseyside partners to support the development of Marmot Community programme and the wider roll-out of the NHS Prevention Pledge to collectively improve health and address health inequalities for our citizens.

Find out more

Keep an eye out in future editions of Collaborate, the Collaborative’s stakeholder newsletter, to read further updates on this work.

The lead Director of Public Health and Senior Responsible Officer for this work is Eileen O’Meara, who retired at the end of July 2021. Ian Ashworth, Director of Public Health for Cheshire West and Chester, will now be taking on this role.

To learn more about the individual Population Health Programmes that the Collaborative leads, please visit