RCPCH is a founding member of a new coalition launched today of nearly 80 organisations, brought together by the Royal College of Physicians. The coalition has been launched to press for urgent action to address health inequalities.
The Inequalities in Health Alliance (IHA) is calling for the Government to:
- Introduce a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities.
- Government to commence use of the socio-economic duty, section 1 of the Equality Act 2010, which would ensure vulnerable people be considered in every policy decision they make
- Adopt a ‘child health in all policies’ approach to policy-making
Research commissioned by the Royal College of Physicians 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 (75%) were concerned – 35% very concerned - that the health gap between wealthy and deprived areas is growing.
Public support for Government action to tackle health inequalities has been bolstered by the events of this year. The pandemic has had markedly different outcomes for those from the most deprived areas; exposing 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 as highest infection rates in areas of the country with higher rates of poverty.
The evidence consistently shows that poverty and inequality impact a child’s whole life, affecting their education, housing and social environment and in turn impacting their health outcomes. Our State of Child Health indicators reveal a widening gap between the health of children from wealthy and deprived backgrounds. We are pleased that one of our key calls to Government – that they should adopt a ‘child health in all policies’ approach to decision-making and policy development is being echoed by the alliance. This would limit the unintended bad consequences of cross-government policies on child health.
Dr Max Davie, Officer for Health Improvement, said:
"RCPCH has long advocated for the Government to adopt a ‘child health in all policies’ approach to policy-making and we are delighted that the Inequalities in Health Alliance has made this one of their three calls to Government.
"Our State of Child Health 2020 report showed a widening gap in the health of children from the wealthiest and most deprived backgrounds. One of our three key priorities for Government to consider in order to improve child health outcomes in the UK is reducing health inequalities.
"COVID-19 has highlighted the devastating impact of health inequalities to the public and with their widespread support, the Government should use this moment to commit themselves to levelling up these health inequalities in the coming months and years. We look forward to working with the alliance to hold the Government’s feet to the fire in the coming months."