Baby basket

Liverpool Health Commission

Investigating and analysing health care policy issues

Liverpool Health Commission is an independent body established by Liverpool John Moores University to investigate and analyse health care policy issues, with the aim of making practical and realistic recommendations to assist policymakers.

The commission’s first topic of investigation, the first 1,000 days of life – encompassing conception to 24-months-old – has long been recognised as the key period in human development when the foundations for optimum health, growth and neurodevelopment are established.

While the UK’s provision of free antenatal care for pregnant women has seen some of the lowest mortality and morbidity rates in the world, one of the most significant barriers to accessing developmental opportunities, such as antenatal and postnatal care and advice, is poverty and its associated conditions.

As the poverty rate of families with children in the UK continues to climb and with Liverpool itself being ranked as the fourth most deprived local authority area in the UK (Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015), the health commission was keen to investigate a national issue of local relevance and significance.

Other marginalised groups with a similar lack of accessible opportunities include, but are not restricted to, migrant and refugee families, children of teenage women, children of drug or alcohol addicted parents and children whose parents failed to gain school-leaving qualifications. Most of these groups are also increasing in number within the UK. These groups will be the primary focus of the commission with further groups targeted as necessary, depending on the ongoing results of the investigation.

In addition, two initiatives of the United Nations have contributed to the commission’s choice of research area; the UNICEF campaign to focus on infant development during the first 1,000 days of life, and the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2015 UN General Assembly. The first five of these 17 broad strategic goals include the key areas of health, education and gender equality, with the Economist in 2016 urging each UN Member State to 'localise the goals'.

The commission is comprised of 11 highly experienced, authoritative commissioners who are recognised experts in their field:

Dame Lorna Muirhead, former Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside; Alison Moore, Director of Refugee Women Connect; Maggie O’Carroll, founder of The Women’s Organisation; Dr Paul Hughes, Executive Medical Director of Addaction; Dr Colm O’Mahony, retired consultant in genito-urinary medicine; Neil Frackelton, Chief Executive of Sefton Women's and Children's Aid; Dr Mary Packer, retired obstetrician and gynaecologist, Professor Vivian Hope of the Public Health Institute; Dr Ruth Hussey, former Chief Medical Officer; Professor Barbara Parfitt CBE, Principal of the Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing in Bangladesh; Sue Thomas, former Director of Community Services for the Liverpool Housing Action Trust and Janet Brennan, Deputy Director of Nursing and Midwifery at Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

Read the commissioners’ full biographies.