From insight to action – using data to narrow healthcare inequalities

In the Chief Data and Analytics Officer (CDAO) directorate we believe that better insights, lead to better decisions and ultimately better health. Good quality, robust data helps us to understand more about local populations and the care and treatment they receive, enabling us to target action where it is most needed.

We have long known that those from the most deprived areas, ethnic minority communities and other inclusion health groups experience health inequalities but the COVID-19 pandemic shone a harsh light on these unfair and avoidable differences.

Since Summer 2021 CDAO and the National Healthcare Inequalities Improvement Programme, have been working with a number of  partner organisations to develop a range of tools that will help staff across the NHS identify population groups experiencing healthcare inequalities and take steps to narrow the gap.

The Healthcare Inequalities Improvement Dashboard (HIID) was launched in September 2021 and provides key strategic indicators relating to health inequalities all in one place. The dashboard covers the five priority areas for narrowing health inequalities originally outlined in the 2021-22 planning guidance, as well as data relating to the five clinical areas of priority identified within the Core20PLUS5 approach. Available on the NHS Foundry platform, the dashboard provides data cut by ethnicity and deprivation, allowing users to explore where inequalities exist, benchmark against other organisations and monitor trends over time.

We have also added companion tools, including the Priority Neighbourhoods dashboard which looks at unplanned hospitalisations for ambulatory care-sensitive conditions and the Primary Care Networks dashboard.

The newest addition to this suite of tools is Actionable Insights. Using statistical models similar to those used in scientific studies, the tool identifies significant inequalities and presents these as clearly as written statements.  The easy to understand sentences summarise information and include information on the proportion of affected patients. They also make comparisons, give a ranking against other systems and predicted outcomes if improvements were made.  Maps are also available which highlight where patients are most negatively impacted within the user’s Integrated Care System (ICS).

By highlighting where genuine inequalities exist, after controlling for a variety of confounding factors including age and gender, this new tool will help ICSs in their duty to tackle health inequalities.

Going forwards we plan to provide more links to intervention case studies which will help bridge the gap from evidence and insight into action.

I urge colleagues across the NHS to take a look at these tools. The insights they will give you will help to make sure your energies are concentrated in the right places, saving you time and resource and allowing you to make the changes you know are needed to look after your communities.

You can access these from the Foundry platform; details on how you can join are available at NHS National Data Platform (Foundry) Onboarding Guide – NHS National Data Platform – FutureNHS Collaboration Platform)

Join today and do your bit to reduce healthcare inequalities.


Andy is the Assistant Head of Analysis in the Chief Data and Analytics Officer directorate of NHS England.

Andy has worked in analytical roles across various sectors and organisations for over 20 years. He joined NHS England in 2017 undertaking modelling, data development, analytical and evaluation work, much of it aligned to national programmes. This has included supporting initiatives on Diabetes, Cardio Vascular Disease and Respiratory Disease framed by the NHS Long Term Plan, and more recently with the Personalised Care and Healthcare Inequalities Improvement programmes. During COVID – as with many colleagues – his focus turned to the NHS’s pandemic response, leading analysis of the association between diabetes and COVID mortality and establishing the NHS Volunteer Responder scheme