We want to be a health service, not an illness service, and our wellbeing is so much more than not having a particular illness or symptom.
It’s about ‘how we are doing’, as individuals, communities and places.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a patient, a relative or friend, a member of our team or a neighbour, helping you achieve the best possible wellbeing is part of how we provide care.
Quick links to helpful, free resources
We’ve summarised the advice, with links to resources you can trust, for some of the simple steps you can take to improve your health.
When we look at the health of Birmingham and the West Midlands, we see there are avoidable and unjust differences in people’s health.
These are referred to as ‘health inequalities’.
For example, we see that someone who lives in one area can expect to live much longer than someone else who lives only a few miles away.
The map below shows the male life expectancy at birth for people who live near each railway station on the Cross City line through Birmingham.
A baby born in Erdington has a life expectancy 12 years less than a baby born in Four Oaks.
This gap is largely created by things that are beyond a person’s control – their housing, their access to good education and work, their community and family circumstances, and the discrimination and prejudice they might encounter as they grow.
Although the causes of health inequalities can be complicated, and have often been passed from generation to generation, this isn’t an excuse for not trying to change things.
For us, this means that we make sure we look at the care we provide to ensure these unfair differences don’t affect how we care for the people we see.
For example, we check to see if people who are likely to have lower incomes have to wait longer for care than those who have more money, or if people who come from a certain ethnic group are more likely to have a bad experience of care.
We’re also working with other NHS organisations, and local government and the voluntary sector, to try and tackle some of those bigger causes. This includes thinking about where we provide care, and also how we provide our services.
As a patient or family member facing this kind of discrimination or unfairness, it can be hard to know what to do to challenge it. We want you to know that it isn’t your responsibility to fix it – it’s for all of us to take on, including Birmingham Women’s and Children’s.
This is even written in law now. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 gave the NHS specific responsibilities to think about health inequalities as we provide care, and the Equality Act also gives us a responsibility to advance equality through what we do.
What you can do to help, whoever you are, is make sure we have the right information about you, for example where you live and what ethnic group you identify with. If we don’t have this information, we can’t see where there are problems that need fixing.
If you think we’re getting things wrong and are treating you unfairly, please let us know.
We also hope the links on this page help you seek the very best for your family.
For example, we know that your chance of being targeted by tobacco advertising and becoming addicted to smoking are much higher if you grew up in a poorer area. Stopping smoking, and inspiring those around you to take on that positive step with you, can make a big difference to gaining back the healthy life years you could have.
Whether you think you’re affected by these issues or not, you might want to find out more about them so you can be more aware of how they might impact others around you.
Finally, particularly if you have lived experience of the challenge of health inequalities, why not consider working for us, or joining our membership council? It can be hard for us to understand a problem if we haven’t faced it ourselves, and your voice could be the one we need to know how to take it on.