The value of public health – Cardiovascular Disease Prevention excellence in Cheshire and Merseyside

The Champs Public Health Collaborative is a formal partnership of public health teams in Cheshire and Merseyside, which is made up of nine local authorities. It was established in 2003 and is led jointly by the subregion’s Directors of Public Health (DsPH).

The DsPH make up an Executive Board and act as a public health system, working closely with key partners including NHS Cheshire and Merseyside, the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, the UK Health Security Agency and NHS England and NHS Improvement. This work is facilitated by the Champs Support Team, a small team hosted by Wirral Council.

By working together on priority areas, the Collaborative pools resources, shares expertise, communicates with one voice, and enables a consistent approach across a large geography. Below is an example of the day-to-day activities that DsPH support and the impact this makes on local communities.

Cardiovascular Disease Prevention excellence in Cheshire and Merseyside

The issue

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of ill health, premature death, and health inequalities across C&M. The Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated inequalities, and the pause in face-to-face prevention opportunities is likely to contribute to an increase in largely preventable heart attacks and strokes and worsening unsustainable pressures on health and care systems. Those from groups at high risk of heart attack and stroke – due to high levels of deprivation, certain ethnic minority groups or patients with severe mental illness (SMI) – are less likely to take up the offer of an NHS Health Check or an annual review for SMI patients, two key CVD prevention opportunities, further compounding inequalities and poor health outcomes. Resource and services are not reaching those who need them most.

The solution

Funding from NHSE Prevention and inequalities (Core20plus5) programmes has helped teams across six Cheshire and Merseyside local authorities to explore how things can be done differently.  Funding has enabled innovative, targeted, and tailored approaches to NHS Health Checks and SMI annual reviews to be developed locally with input from target groups and local partners, and for pilot site teams to learn from each other as they design and implement solutions.

The results

Local NHS Health Checks and SMI annual reviews are more accessible and better suited to the needs of those who stand to benefit the most. There has been an increase in uptake for NHS Health Checks in priority target groups.  This work is helping more people from deprived areas, ethnic minority groups and patients with severe mental illness to have risk factors for CVD identified as part of NHS Health Checks and SMI annual reviews (e.g., high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol) and to be supported to take steps to reduce their risk.

Lessons learned

Valuable insights into what does and doesn’t work locally, and why, have been captured so key lessons and recommendations can be shared with other areas. Areas beyond the pilot sites will benefit from the new insights, supporting effective NHS Health Check delivery models to be adopted more widely.