Country profile

Wales is a constituent country of the United Kingdom, with a population of 3 million. As a result of the devolution process, the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government were set up in 1998 with legislative and executive responsibility for all matters concerning Wales, including health and social policy. In 1996 the country was divided into 22 local government councils, which are responsible for the provision of all local government services.

Public healthcare in Wales is provided by NHS Wales, which is managed by the Welsh Assembly and Executive. Medical services are free to all citizens and financial though government taxation. The Minister for Health and Social Services is responsible for both health and social care. Although the public healthcare system dominates, private healthcare services are quite established.


Policy responses

Tackling health inequalities is quite high in the Welsh political agenda, the concept having also been officially transferred into the 2011 Governmental Programme. The issue has been discussed at least since 1999 with the establishment of the first Welsh Government.

The Welsh political system is conducive to joints across policy areas, particularly because there are no separate ministries, as all are part of the Welsh Assembly Government. Wales is also quite successful in employing a HiAP approach, also thanks to its limited dimensions, and in setting up a good level of cross-sectional and inter-level (national/local) collaboration. Policies that address health inequalities are developed not only by the Ministry of Health, but also by the ministry of Justice and Employment, among others. Also, important stakeholders, empowered to influence the decisions of policy makers, are the local authorities, community groups, and the business sector, revealing the relevant influence of bottom-up advocacy in the Country.

Despite significant policy responses, health inequalities are increasing. This trend is sought reversed with the main policy document addressing health inequalities is “Our Healthy Future” (2009 – 2020), the public health strategic framework developed in accordance with a Health in All Policies (HiAP) approach.

An overview of policy responses addressing health inequalities in can be found in our Policy Database.


Good practices

An overview of projects and initiatives that are currently taking place or that have successfully been finalized, and that are addressing health inequality issues, can be found in our Project Database.

Key actors

Please find below an overview of key actors in Wales working on health inequality issues:

Are you aware of any other key actors that should be added to this list? 

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Key resources

Please find below an overview of relevant documents addressing health inequality issues in Wales. Further publications can be found in our Publications Database.

Are you aware of any other key resources that should be added to this list?
Please let us know!

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