Responding to the Government’s Levelling Up Agenda announcement, Professor Neena Modi, BMA President, said:
“This is a long-awaited paper but one which appears to deliver less than we hoped, particularly in the crucial area of health. With limited funding announced, we hope that the proposals to tackle health inequalities are given the priority they need.
“The preservation of health should never take second place to the generation of wealth and this strategy only pinpoints a few specific health commitments – that of narrowing the life expectancy between areas and improving ‘well-being’ in every area – and spends much of the rest of the paper talking about physical infrastructure. Narrowing the gap in life expectancy is vital albeit wildly ambitious without targeted investment and impactful policies.
“The paper focuses on regional inequalities, but we feel that there is a missed opportunity here for support for groups who have poorer health. For example, people from black and ethnic minority, and socioeconomically disadvantaged, backgrounds suffer greatly in areas such as maternal and infant mortality, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Covid-19, and so need well-calibrated interventions regardless of where they live. ‘Levelling up’ cannot work for everyone without considering everyone.
“It’s clear that the social, economic and political environment in which our children grow up in will determine the future health of the nation, so the Government’s priorities must be reshaped to give equal weighting to both health and wealth, backed by ambitious investment. We’re calling on ministers to commit to a cross-government strategy on reducing individuals’ health inequalities and we look forward to seeing the White Paper on Health Disparities later in the year. Only then can we hope to ‘level up’ in Britain.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.