Patients demand action on health inequalities, as report shows how government policy has degraded the nation’s health

The Patients Association is calling for decisive action by the Government in the wake of the publication of the ten-year review of Sir Michael Marmot’s landmark report on health inequalities.

Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said: “Today’s report makes for truly shocking reading. It shows that improvements in life expectancy have stalled for the first time in over a century, and that people across England are now spending more of their lives in ill health. There are clear divides along economic, geographic and ethnic lines: people on the wrong sides of these divides are living shorter lives, and experiencing poor health for longer.

 “These declines have not occurred in other developed countries: the report shows that they are the direct result of policy choices by successive governments since 2010. There is no justification for our political leaders degrading the health of the population in this way – it is a monstrous failure.

 “Solutions to these urgent problems are, happily, identified in the report. Some have been developed by local authorities, in extremely trying circumstances. Others lie in rectifying the policy errors of the last decade of austerity-driven cuts, not least to services provided by local authorities. 

 “Implementing these solutions will require the truly strategic approach to health and wellbeing that we have been urging the Government to adopt. Not only should the Government commit adequate funding for the NHS and social care, but it should articulate a clear vision for health and wellbeing, and align all areas of policy to ensure its vision is realised. These must include housing, environmental, transport, food, work and economic policy.

“It is time for the Government to take its responsibilities for stewarding the nation’s health seriously, so that ten years from now we are not once again reflecting on a decade of disgrace and failure. 

“The Patients Association will be taking the findings and recommendations of this report as our starting-point for our own work to drive improvements in the health and wellbeing of people who suffer most as a result of health inequalities, and can find it hard to access the support and services they need.”