Insight 2022 – Day 5 – If we are to reduce health inequalities, what decisions are needed and how should they be made?

25th November 2022, 15:30 – 16:30

Part of INSIGHT 2022

If we are to reduce health inequalities, what decisions are needed and how should they be made? A discussion with Dr Bola Owolabi, Director – National Healthcare Inequalities Improvement Programme, NHS England

The last decade has seen health inequalities widening despite oft stated intentions to achieve the opposite. The COVID pandemic and lockdown response worsened this further.  As the NHS has increased investment and introduced rafts of new policies this has consistently resulted in increasing service access for those who are least deprived whilst seeing outcome inequalities widening. We now have a renewed policy focus and energy targeted at reversing this trend and perhaps a greater recognition than ever before that addressing inequalities requires redistribution of resources (when resources are finite). The theme for INSIGHT 2022 is ‘The science and craft of decision making’.  This session focussed therefore, on the decision-making challenges in addressing inequalities and achieving redistribution – what decisions do systems (and their constituents) need to take and, critically, how should they make them given that we are in complex systems, that the way we’ve done it to date has achieved the opposite of intentions and that legitimacy is an important consideration for decision takers? What kinds of ‘insight to action’ are likely to be essential? What can we do to behave as a ‘learning system’? What kind of dialogue do we need with the public that we serve?

This session is a personal exploration of these questions with Dr Owolabi (Bola) in conversation. This is challenging and nuanced territory and no one holds a secret magic bullet. Bola has had the courage to take a leadership role and we wanted to dig deep into her thinking about the ingredients needed if we are, this time, to achieve what we say we want.

​​​​​​​Dr Bola Owolabi MRCGP MSc HonMFPH is Director – National Healthcare Inequalities Improvement Programme and NHSE Senior Responsible Officer – digital inclusion. She also works as a General Practitioner in the Midlands.

Bola has particular interests in reducing health inequalities through integrated care models, service transformation and using data & insights for quality improvement.

Bola has held various leadership roles at local, system and national levels. She was until recently, National Specialty Advisor for Older People and Integrated Person-Centred Care at NHS England and Improvement where she led the Anticipatory Care Workstream of the National Ageing Well Programme. She has worked with teams across NHS England/Improvement and the Department of Health and Social Care as part of the Covid 19 Pandemic response.

Bola was interviewed by Abe Mulla, a Managing Consultant in the Strategy Unit.  Abe specialises in the application of qualitative methodologies to analytical questions and leads on qualitative evaluation.  She enjoys applying her evaluation expertise to improving access to health and care services, especially for those that are most disadvantaged.  She believes that serious consideration of equity of access challenges will support health and care systems to reduce health inequalities.

If you have any questions regarding the festival, please contact Rachel Caswell

If we are to reduce health inequalities, what decisions are needed and how should they be made?