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March 18, 2024
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ADPH respond to report of “mounting catastrophe”

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have described poverty’s toll on the nation’s health as a “mounting catastrophe” in need of political attention. 


Responding to the report, ‘Illustrating the relationship between poverty and NHS services’, published today by the King’s Fund and commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Greg Fell, President of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said:

“It is simply unacceptable that people living in poverty are getting sicker at an earlier age, more often, and for longer, than people who aren’t. This new research from The King’s Fund and Joseph Rowntree Foundation puts into focus just how appalling the scale of these health inequalities are.

“The next Government – whoever they are – must take a radical new approach to health and wellbeing and realise that all policies, whether they are related to transport, education, housing, the environment, the economy or anything else, have an impact on our health. National and local governments of all parties therefore need to work together with business and local communities to think about what the consequences for people’s health and wellbeing will be before implementing new plans and strategies.

“So much of what the NHS does at the moment is connected to treating largely preventable ill-health and we have seen in this report that this is disproportionately so for those living in poverty. So many conditions, including cardiovascular disease, mental health conditions, malnutrition, respiratory disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and some types of cancer could be prevented if we lived in a society and environment that promoted health and wellbeing.

“In order to prevent people getting sick from these types of conditions we need to ensure that everyone – regardless of where they live or how much money they have – has access to affordable healthy food and leisure choices, good education and work, decent housing and are able to live a happy, productive, meaningful life.

“Only by addressing these issues will we be able to reduce the pressure the health and social care sector is currently under so, as part of our Manifesto for a Healthier Nation, Directors of Public Health are calling for a dedicated Health Inequalities Strategy with clear targets for how and when the current gap in health outcomes will be reduced. It is important too that we address these inequalities right from the very start of life as so much of our future health is determined by our experiences in childhood. We therefore also want to see a new Child Poverty Act which commits to ending child poverty by 2030 so that all children can have a healthy, secure footing to grow and develop from.

“The solution isn’t straightforward. It will require a great deal of effort and collaboration, but we hope that today’s report helps to cement in politicians’ minds just how important an issue it is and provide them with the resolve they need to implement real change so that everyone can live healthier lives for longer.”

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