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Nurse leader: Creating a social movement for health

To develop a culture of health, we have to increase our focus on prevention, and support people and communities to create conditions for better outcomes, says Viv Bennett.

To develop a culture of health, we have to increase our focus on prevention, and support people and communities to create conditions for better outcomes, says Viv Bennett.


Developing a culture of health partly means increasing our focus on prevention, Viv Bennett says.

Leaders including NHS chief executive Simon Stevens have identified the need for social movements in health, and for the development of a culture of health in our society.

But what does this really mean? 

Social movement essentially means collective action, large groups of individuals or organisations focusing on specific political or social issues.

You will likely be familiar with social movements related to the suffragettes, for example, or anti-smoking groups, which collectively made huge changes.

Developing a culture of health means increasing our focus on prevention, and supporting people and communities to create the conditions for better outcomes, as advocated in the NHS Five Year Forward View.

Social movements can act as powerful levers for change, which is why the NHS is interested in social movement theory.

This is evident from the former NHS Modernisation Agency’s review of social movement literature – Towards a Million Change Agents – and in NHS England’s new three-year programme to support social movements in health and care.

Public Health England recently launched All Our Health, a call-to-action to all individual health and care professionals to deliver health-promoting practice.

The aim is to act collectively as a force for change, and as champions of prevention, to build resilience and advocate for the public's health.

I believe that health and care professionals are those ‘million plus change agents’. Together, we have a huge opportunity to lead a social movement for health.   

Follow All Our Health on Twitter using #AllOurHealth


About the author 

Viv Bennett

Viv Bennett is Public Health England chief nurse

Follow her at @VivJBennett

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