First developed in the US, the term anchor institutions refers to large, typically non-profit organisations like hospitals, local councils, and universities whose long-term sustainability is tied to the wellbeing of the populations they serve. Anchors get their name because they have ‘sticky capital’; they are unlikely to move, given their connection to the local population, and have a significant influence on the health and wellbeing of a local community.

The Health Foundation is working in partnership with the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) and The Democracy Collaborative to understand how NHS organisations act as anchor institutions in their local communities and can positively influence the social, economic and environmental conditions in an area to support healthy and prosperous people and communities. 

Inforgraphic showing how the NHS is an anchor institution

In summer 2019, we published the findings of the research phase of this work. Read the report.

We are also working with NHS England 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. To hear about this, and the rest of 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 social determinants of health, inequalities, and community and voluntary.

Further reading

Newsletter feature

Anchored in the local community: how NHS organisations can improve population health

We spoke to James Goodyear about how his trust is making the most of its role as an anchor institution.

Research report

Building healthier communities: the role of the NHS as an anchor institution

Our new report explores the ways in which NHS organisations act as anchor institutions, and their potential to positively inf...


The contribution of the health and care system to improving health

As part of our work to support improvements in health care, we have been exploring the wider contribution that health care se...

Newsletter feature

The NHS as an anchor

The impact the NHS has on people’s health extends well beyond its role as a provider of treatment and care.

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