8. Prevent ill health and tackle health inequalities

Prevention is a crucial part of the NHS’s approach to improving overall population health and reducing health inequalities: helping people to make healthier lifestyle choices and treating illness at an early stage, so they can live longer, healthier lives.

Supporting children and young people

The pandemic had a huge impact on the lives of children and young people, risking the longer-term health of the nation and exacerbating inequalities. We will continue to support improvements in the quality of care for children and young people and better integrate services, both within the NHS and with partners across public health, children’s social care and education.

Our commitments for 2022/23

  • Support local systems to integrate services for children and young people.
  • Improve care for long term conditions such as asthma, epilepsy and diabetes, including delivery of the national asthma care bundle.
  • Continue the roll-out of ‘Complications from Excess Weight Clinics’ for severely obese children.
  • Develop person-centred and age-appropriate care for mental and physical health needs rather than a transition to adult services based on age.
  • Harness the voice of young people through the NHS Youth Forum and ensure we improve the patient experience for young people.

Tackling health inequalities

We continue to support the NHS to realise the ambition of reducing healthcare inequalities through equitable access, excellent experience and optimal outcomes for all. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated existing health inequalities, with its disproportionate impact on people and communities already at highest risk. Central to restoring services inclusively is NHS action at scale and pace to protect those at greatest risk by tackling health inequalities.

Our commitments for 2022/23

  • Support the reduction in health inequalities through the Core20PLUS5 approach, including through national programmes like the Core20PLUS connectors, collaborative and ambassadors.
  • Develop and publish the National Healthcare Inequalities Improvement Strategy and associated delivery plans.
  • Develop and implement the integrated care systems (ICSs) Health Inequalities System Accountability Framework.
  • Develop and publish a menu of evidence-based interventions for reducing healthcare inequalities.

Screening, vaccinations and non COVID-19 immunisations

Under Section 7a of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, we are responsible for the commissioning of national screening and immunisation programmes, including those for bowel and breast cancer, cervical screening, childhood immunisations and the influenza vaccination. Their uptake decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are now working to restore these services, as well as expanding eligibility, improving the detection of cancers and implementing plans to address health inequalities in uptake.

Our commitments for 2022/23


  • Implement targeted recovery support packages for challenged providers of breast, abdominal aortic aneurysm and diabetic eye screening.
  • Implement and roll out targeted initiatives to support an increase in the number of women taking up their screening offer.
  • Develop and deliver a strategy for the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme which includes an age extension and people with Lynch syndrome, and supports wider uptake improvements to address inequalities.
  • Develop and deliver the Cervical Screening Programme strategy to better understand and support improvements to address health inequalities.


  • Implement the national measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine call and recall for children aged 1 to 6 years.
  • Support catch up programmes that use alternative delivery methods for MMR and school-aged immunisations.
  • Improve access to better target unvaccinated individuals and tackle health inequalities.

Prevention programmes

We will continue to support the delivery of evidence-based NHS prevention programmes to optimise care for cardiovascular disease (CVD), and reduce smoking, obesity and alcohol intake. Our new services will maximise diagnosis and treatment of CVD and help more people to stop smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep their alcohol intake to under a healthy limit.

Our commitments for 2022/23

  • Support the NHS to increase the number of people supported through the Diabetes Prevention Programme.
  • Expand the Digital Weight Management Programme.
  • Continue to roll out inpatient and maternal tobacco dependence treatment services in line with agreed ICS-level trajectories.
  • Support the continued development of alcohol care teams in hospitals with the highest rate of alcohol dependence-related admissions.
  • Support the establishment of 15 cardiac networks and the first stand-alone thrombectomy centre.
Next page: Drive the integration of care and enable change

You can download a PDF version of our 2022/23 business plan here