The BSI has joined over 70 other organisations in an alliance brought together by the Royal College of Physicians, to press for urgent action to address health inequalities.
The Inequalities in Health Alliance (IHA) is demanding a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities: unfair and avoidable differences in health across the population, and between different groups within society. Health inequalities, which may involve differences in access to healthcare or the standards of care available, can damage quality of life and even shorten life expectancy. In our work to promote vaccines and reverse the decline in childhood vaccination uptake, the BSI has found that deprivation can play a big part in perpetuating this particular health inequality.
Research commissioned for the launch of the IHA shows widespread concern over health inequalities and overwhelming support for action.
Almost two thirds (65%) of those surveyed by Yonder felt that governments across the UK should be doing to more to address the issue and 81% agreed (52% strongly) that there should be a UK government strategy to reduce inequalities in health.
There are many causes of health inequalities but deprivation is a key factor. Of those surveyed, 78% agreed (50% strongly) that all parts of Government in each part of the UK should have to consider the impact of their policies on people who are less well off. Three quarters were concerned (35% very concerned) that the health gap between wealthy and deprived areas is growing (Health Equity in England: the Marmot review 10 years on, January 2020).
Nearly a quarter (24%) selected access to healthcare as the health inequality they were most concerned about, with 17% opting for poor mental health and 16% long term health conditions.
The BSI has joined other founder members of the IHA in writing to the Prime Minister, acknowledging that the government has been focused on responding to the pandemic but pointing out that, with its impact felt differently by different communities, COVID-19 has exposed how health inequalities can have an impact not just over a lifetime, but a matter of weeks. Now, the second wave of COVID-19 is hitting those already most disadvantaged in our society.
As well as calling on Boris Johnson to develop a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities, the IHA wants the government to use the socio-economic duty, section 1 of the Equality Act 2010, to address health inequalities and to adopt a ‘child health in all policies’ approach.
Find out more about the Inequalities in Health Alliance, including a list of the member organisations. Membership is open to any not-for-profit organisation that has an interest in reducing health inequality.