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Report reveals England's health inequalities

A major UCL-led review commissioned by the UK Government and led by Professor Sir Michael Marmot (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health) found that most people in England don’t live as long as the rich and suffer more ill health. It concluded that, although health inequalities are normally associated with the poor, premature illness and death affects everyone below the wealthiest tier of English society.

Tower-block

The report, Fair Society, Healthy Lives, also found that people living in the most deprived neighbourhoods will on average die seven years earlier than people living in the richest neighbourhoods. Even more disturbing, people living in poorer areas not only die sooner, but spend more of their lives with disability – an average total difference of 17 years. The review has estimated the cost of health inequalities in England as resulting in productivity losses of £31 – 33 billion every year; lost taxes and higher welfare payments in the range of £20 – 32 billion per year; and additional NHS health-care costs well in excess of £5.5 billion per year. Additionally, it is predicted that the cost of treating the various illnesses that result from inequalities in obesity alone will rise from £2 billion per year to nearly £5 billion per year by 2025.

The review called for health inequalities to sit alongside tackling climate change as one of society’s core priorities and proposed new ways to improve everyone’s health and reduce inequalities that it describes as ‘unfair and unjust’. . Creating a sustainable future is, the review argues, compatible with action to reduce health inequalities: sustainable local communities, active transport, sustainable food production, and zero carbon houses will all have health benefits across society.

The six main recommendations of the review are:

  • Giving every child the best start in life
  • Enabling all children, young people and adults to maximise their capabilities and have control over their lives
  • Creating fair employment and good work for all
  • Ensuring a healthy standard of living for all
  • Creating and developing sustainable places and communities
  • Strengthening the role and impact of ill-health prevention

The then Health Secretary Andy Burnham said the review would help the Government put in place a strategy to tackle health inequalities over the next decade. The new Coalition Government is considering its response to the review.

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Page last modified on 15 feb 11 10:01