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Making every contact count

Since the 1980’s there has been increasing emphasis on a “fully engaged” scenario and the role that all staff has to play in health improvement and reducing health inequalities.

Historically, the concept of protecting health is not new as Dr Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910), The First Woman Doctor articulated:

We are not tinkers who merely patch and mend what is broken… we must be watchmen, guardians of the life and the health of our generation, so that stronger and more able generations may come after.

Making Every Contact Count (MECC) simply describes a way of working with and for our patients and clients in a way that addresses health and wellbeing in its broadest sense – including health promotion as part of a routine intervention.

The phrase has been coined as a means of describing brief opportunistic lifestyle interventions and signposting to services as part of everyday contact with the general public – and especially as a routine part of a clinical intervention.

The Public Health White Paper: Healthy Lives Healthy People 2010 concluded that initiatives for improving health & wellbeing should include:

  • strengthening self-esteem, confidence and personal responsibility
  • positively promoting ‘healthier’ behaviours and lifestyles
  • adapting the environment to make healthy choices easier.

In terms of education and training to date it has tended to focus on ensuring that staffs are able to offer brief advice focusing on the key lifestyle topic areas that have a detrimental impact on health and wellbeing such as alcohol, smoking, obesity, mental health, sexual health and physical activity.

However, the wider determinants of health determine future life chances and ultimately – quality and quantity of good health for an individual.

Education and training for staff need to take into account the broader determinants of health to include what impacts on health such as a good start in life, housing, built environment, education and employment.

Public health training for staff at all levels needs to reflect this and Health Education North West are committed to the health improvement role of staff being fully supported through education and training.

One of the core transformational priorities outlined in our organisational development plan includes the following: –

Align to the NHS England Mandate and Public Health Outcomes Framework – Delivering with partners Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A Public Health Workforce Strategy – making sure the patient experience, helping people to live longer and that public health is everyone’s business


We are committed to ensuring that our staffs are enabled to make every contact a health improving contact, all staff has a significant contribution to make to improve health and reduce health inequalities in the North West.

 - Laura Roberts, Managing Director, Health Education North West

Sharing knowledge, information and good practice

We are committed to supporting this agenda by working with education commissioners and providers of health improvement training by sharing knowledge, resources and good practice associated with “Making Every Contact” and related training. Information and resources will be updated on a regular basis as part of an initial approach to improving and increasing workforce contribution to health improvement.

If you would like to share the work that you are doing – particularly education and training approaches then we would really like to hear from you. If you are an NHS or Local Authority provider and would like to list your training provision here contact Alison.farrar@srft.nhs.uk

Find out more about our national activity on population health, what other areas are doing to promote this area locally, on the dedicated national page

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