East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has become one of the first healthcare providers in Kent, Surrey and Sussex to introduce Making Every Contact Count (MECC), a national initiative to help reduce health inequalities.
The project is a part of NHS Hastings and Rother Clinical Commissioning Group’s Healthy Hastings and Rother programme in partnership with the Trust and East Sussex County Council Public Health.
It aims to address health inequalities in the Hastings and Rother area by using the contact that NHS staff have with individuals as an opportunity to encourage and deliver key messages to help improve their physical and emotional wellbeing.
These messages could include advice on stopping smoking, eating healthily, maintaining a healthy weight, drinking alcohol within the recommended daily limits, undertaking the recommended amount of physical activity or improving mental health and wellbeing.
The introduction of this approach is in response to figures showing that 80% of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes cases and 33% of cancers could be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle. Lifestyle factors, particularly smoking, are also one of the biggest contributors to health inequalities in England.
Within the Trust, the first group of 40 staff have completed their MECC training, with more staff being trained in the coming weeks.
Penny Walker, Making Every Contact Count Project Lead for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said: “In the training, staff are provided with knowledge and skills so they are confident to have a conversation about healthier lifestyles, gauge whether the individual is interested and if so refer them on to the appropriate service to support a healthy lifestyle change.
“This project is an exciting opportunity for the Trust to work collaboratively with external partners to help reduce health inequalities in the Hastings and Rother area.”
Dr Susan Rae, a local GP and governing body member of Hastings and Rother CCG, said: “We are pleased to support a project that will give NHS professionals the tools and skills to help local people improve their health and wellbeing and promote positive behaviour change.”
Cynthia Lyons, acting Director of Public Health said. “By Making Every Contact Count East Sussex Healthcare staff are making a big difference to the health and wellbeing of people in East Sussex. I’m delighted that we’ve had the opportunity to work with the Trust to take forward this exciting project which puts prevention at the heart of the healthcare system.”
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