New Study Reveals Britain’s Health Inequalities

People who live in the poorest regions of England are diagnosed with serious illnesses earlier and die sooner than their counterparts in more affluent regions, according to a new study.

The Health Foundation study, published Monday, found that “A 60-year-old woman in the poorest areas of England has a level of ‘diagnosed illness’ equivalent to that of a 76-year-old woman in the wealthiest areas . . . While a 60-year-old man in the poorest areas of England will on average have a level of diagnosed illness equivalent to that of a 70- year-old man in the wealthiest areas.”

The Health Foundation is an independent charity dedicated to improving “the health and healthcare of the people in the UK.”

The foundation said while previous studies about health inequalities in England have mostly relied on self-reported health outcomes, their study “linked hospital and primary care data to examine socioeconomic, regional and ethnic variations in the prevalence of diagnosed long-term illnesses.”

The study also uncovered “significant ethnic disparities in diagnosed illness” in populations of people from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and black Caribbean backgrounds.  This group had higher levels of long-term illness than the white population.

People from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds also had “the highest rates of diagnosed chronic pain, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

The Health Foundation, however, also found that the white population “had the highest levels of diagnosed anxiety or depression, and alcohol problems.”

“White people are also more likely to be living with cancer,” according to the study’s findings. This may be occurring because of “the increased survival rates associated with cancers that are more prevalent in this group and due to more diagnoses resulting from greater access to cancer screening in the white population.”

‘The NHS wasn’t set up to carry the burden of policy failings in other parts of society,” Jo Bibby, director of Healthy Lives at the Health Foundation said in a statement. “A healthy, thriving society must have all the right building blocks in place, including good quality jobs, housing and education. Without these, people face shorter lives, in poorer health”.

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