Calls for North East MPs to take action on region's health inequality after Covid-19 impact

The British Medical Association wants North East MPs to take ‘urgent, concerted action’ to tackle health inequalities after the region suffered one of the UK’s highest Covid-19 death rates.

Wednesday, 15th July 2020, 11:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 15th July 2020, 11:00 am

It said the high fatality rate in the North East emphasised pre-existing health inequalities, brought about by employment, education, housing and other social factors, and urged the Government to urgently tackle these.

A letter, sent to 29 MPs following a meeting of the BMA North East Regional Council on Wednesday, July 8, said the north-south health gap had widened before the pandemic, with the largest decreases in life expectancy seen in the North East’s most deprived areas.

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The BMA says the North East “suffered disproportionately” during the pandemic, leading to a crisis in healthcare.

It said this trend had continued during the coronavirus outbreak, with data showing that people in the country’s poorest areas are twice as likely to die from Covid-19 than those in the richest areas.

They add that the North East is enduring a higher death rate per 100,000 population than other regions.

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Dr George Rae, chairman of the BMA North East Regional Council, wrote: “Unfortunately, not enough has been done to resolve this unfair situation, which now must be tackled head-on.

“The consequences on health must be factored into all political decision-making. We are asking for a health-in-all-policies approach to understand the impact of Government policy on tackling inequalities.

“As part of this, action must be taken to address social determinants of health, including ensuring a high standard of education for all, providing high-quality housing and delivering good employment opportunities.

“There can be no doubt now that urgent, concerted action is required to tackle this entrenched problem.

“The Government must now act to tackle regional health inequalities as a priority and, as an MP in the North East, I call on you to champion this much needed change.”

A Government spokesman added: “It is clear that Covid-19 has disproportionately impacted certain groups of people and has highlighted disparities in our communities.

“Following Public Health England’s findings, the equalities minister is now taking forward vital work to tackle these disparities and protect our most vulnerable communities from the impact of the virus.”

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