A coalition of nearly 80 organisations has been launched in order to pressure the Government into tackling health inequalities.
A survey commissioned by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) found that 65% of respondents felt that governments across the UK should be doing to more to address health inequalities.
Over 80% agreed that there should be a UK Government strategy to reduce inequalities in health.
Of those surveyed, 78% agreed (50% strongly) that all parts of Government in each part of the UK should have to consider the impact of their policies on people who are less well off.
Three quarters (75%) were concerned – 35% very concerned – that the health gap between wealthy and deprived areas is growing.
The Inequalities in Health Alliance (IHA), a coalition brought together by the Royal College of Physicians, is calling on the Government to introduce a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities.
It is also urging the Government to commence use of the socio-economic duty, section 1 of the Equality Act 2010, which would ensure vulnerable people be considered in every policy decision they make.
The coalition is also insisting the Government adopt a ‘child health in all policies’ approach to policy-making.
RCP president Professor Andrew Goddard said: ‘Health inequalities are not an issue to be addressed once the pandemic is behind us; a focus on them is one way in which we can tackle COVID-19 in the short term, and help to reduce its impact upon the health and prosperity of the UK in the longer term.
‘That such a large number and wide range of organisations should come together to form the Health Inequalities Alliance is a powerful statement that now is the perfect time to reduce the gap in healthy life expectancy by taking the right steps to reset the NHS, make social care sustainable, and reinvigorate our approach to public health.’