A UCL report published today sets out a new framework and recommendations on how to reduce health inequities across the UK and ‘build back fairer’ following the pandemic.
The recommendations from the UCL Institute of Health Equity – the leading global institute on health inequalities – include measures around education, housing, transport, clear air and lifting people out of poverty and debt.
The review, led by Professor Sir Michael Marmot, was commissioned by the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership. The City Region had a 25% higher Covid-19 death rate than England as a whole in the 13 months to March 2021.
This high death rate contributed to a decline in life expectancy in the North West region, which was larger than the average in England. Life expectancy fell in 2020 by 1.6 years for men and 1.2 years for women in the North West compared 1.3 years and 0.9 years, respectively, across England.
Prof Marmot (UCL Institute of Health Equity), a leading figure on health inequalities, said: “Greater Manchester has high levels of avoidable health inequalities as a result of longstanding economic and social inequities, and as across the country, ethnic disadvantage.
“The City Region has also experienced high rates of mortality from COVID-19 and particularly damaging long-term economic and social effects during the pandemic as a result of prolonged lockdowns. These multiple negative impacts will damage health and widen health inequalities unless action to build back fairer is introduced across the City Region.”
Recommendations in the review include additional support for early years settings, including interventions to support young people’s mental health; minimum standards on the quality of employment, environment, housing, transport, and clean air; and greater local control around employment, social housing and early years policies.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham welcomed the report from the UCL institute, set up in 2011 to address health inequalities. A 2020 report from the institute highlighted the growing health gap between the north and south of England.
Prof Bryan Williams, Chair of Medicine at UCL and Director of Research at UCLH and of the NIHR UCLH BRC, said: “This timely report provides important and high-quality insights into regional health inequalities and a clear framework to address inequities across the country. The report highlights the role that big academic centres with a wide reach like UCL can bring to bear on these regional questions, thanks to our expertise in areas including health and health inequalities, scientific evaluation and policy. It shows that regional issues that need scientific insight are best served by getting the best available scientific evaluation from wherever that may be, in this case, at UCL”.