An effect of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the further exposing of health inequalities in our society. For radiographers and professionals who work in clinical imaging and radiotherapy services, an overview of what actions to take in response are provided in My role in tackling health inequalities A framework for Allied Health Professionals which is joint work between the Kings Fund and Allied Health Professional Bodies including the Society of Radiographers.
Council of Deans of Health Guidance: Public Health Content Within The Pre-Registration Curricula for Allied Health Professions provides an overview in terms of evolving knowledge and focus, for public health and healthcare professional education.
In order for healthcare professionals to address regional variations for the populations that they work with, they can first develop their own understanding of healthcare professionals’ roles in public health, and specifically the inequalities that exist through the lens of the Wider determinants of health - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
In attempt to address some of the wider determinants of health, SoR ask that members and their teams join together to actively seek out information and data within and for their own healthcare organisations.
Social prescribing, sometimes referred to as community referral, is a mechanism by which healthcare professionals may refer people to non-clinical services in their area, to support a person’s health and wellbeing. For example, referral to a social prescribing link worker might support a person to join a local community group such as gardening, walking, or art focus groups. There is, however, recognition that social prescribing services are not always reaching the people who need support. For example, there are gaps for veterans leaving the armed forces, young people, and also the many people who are carers in our communities. Currently (2022), local Integrated Care Systems (ICS) in England have a remit to commission social prescribing but the services are not UK wide. This is important for the people who SoR members see in clinical practice each day. If social prescribing is not available equally then this is ultimately another source of health inequality for the populations that we care for. Where there are gaps then it is important to contact the local ICS and raise awareness of inequalities of access (or equivalent in the devolved nations, for example, enquire with a local health board).
The Society of Radiographers are one of over 200 organisations who form the Inequalities in Health Alliance | RCP London . Alongside the social prescribing agenda and approaches to influence wider determinants of health, there are main areas where radiographers can have most impact for the people they care for. Those areas are part of radiographers’ everyday roles in: Health Protection (screening and radiation protection responsibilities); Population Healthcare (ensuring timely access to our services for all populations, early diagnosis and interventions) and; Health Improvement (short healthy conversations while chatting with patients). You can make a start today by visiting RSPH | Allied Health Professions hub for supporting materials. Where relevant, having or encouraging others to have conversations in areas that are important for Making Every Contact Count (MECC)
If you have any queries or information that you would like to share about health inequalities, the wider determinants of health, or social prescribing, then please do contact [email protected] who will direct your email on to one of our SoR professional officers.