Reacting to yesterday’s confirmation by DHSC that the Health Inequalities White Paper has been scrapped, President of the BMA Professor Martin McKee said:
“It is appalling that during a cost-of-living crisis threatening the long term health of many in our poorest communities, and after a decade in which cuts to welfare and public health measures have made our country relentlessly sicker, the Government could simply abandon its promised strategy to address health inequalities.
"We and many other health organisations have been raising the alarm over the ticking time bomb of ill health for years. We have heard harrowing testimony from doctors across the country as they struggle to cope with afflictions beyond their control: in-work poverty, cold homes, poor child nutrition.
"These require a joined up strategy across all government departments to treat, but with the scrapping of this white paper the Government has shown it never had the appetite to commit to one.
“The replacement ‘Major Conditions Strategy’ should be welcomed if it leads to improved treatment for people already experiencing ill health. But we also desperately need a plan to stop people getting ill in the first place.
"Amidst a historic crisis in the NHS, it is the healthcare workforce that will, once again, pick up the pieces of the Government’s failure to prioritise the country’s health.
"The chancellor today has set out a plan for growth without ever mentioning one of the key inputs to economic prosperity – the health of the population. With half a million more people out of the labour force because of long-term sickness since 2019, how can the Government drop a plan for health inequalities in the same breath as promising economic growth?”
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.