Key points

Anchor institutions are large, public sector organisations that are unlikely to relocate and have a significant stake in a geographical area. The size, scale and reach of the NHS means it influences the health and wellbeing of communities simply by being there.

Our report identifies five ways in which NHS organisations act as anchor institutions:

The conclusion sets out actions and opportunities for the NHS to harness its considerable influence to have an even greater impact on the health and wellbeing of communities.

Download the report now

This report showcases where NHS organisations are already implementing anchor practices, and outlines how decision makers across the health care system can maximise the contribution the NHS makes to the social, economic and environmental conditions that shape good health. Our report also draws on findings from research carried out by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) and The Democracy Collaborative, looking at existing practice at three NHS trusts.

The Health Foundation will be working with NHS England and Improvement to build on this work to help achieve the aims set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, to further build system understanding of anchor practices and how the NHS creates social value in local communities.

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To hear more about our work focused on improving health, go to our preference centre, where you can sign up to receive updates via email on topics such as the social determinants of health, inequalities, and integrated care.

If you’d like us to keep in touch with us specifically about our work on the role of the NHS as an anchor institution, sign up below.

Cite this publication

Reed S, Göpfert A, Wood S, Allwood D, Warburton W, 'Building healthier communities: the role of the NHS as an anchor institution'. Health Foundation; 2019.

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