Tackling health inequality is now a top economic priority – The Yorkshire Post says

EVEN though Boris Johnson is now committed to an independent public inquiry into Covid-19 at, presumably, a time of the Government’s choosing once the pandemic has passed, there are, nevertheless, lessons that can be learned now and policy remedies put in place.

Health inequalities continue to have a detrimental impact on the North's prospects.

As well as contingency supplies of PPE and the need to treat all aspects of neglected social care policy as a political priority like no other, there’s an acceptance that it is people living, and working, in deprived communities who have been, and remain, particularly susceptible to coronavirus.

And it is the issue of health inequalities that, in turn, goes to the heart of the Government’s wider policy programme if Ministers are serious about ‘levelling up’ the country and ensuring that poor health, and poverty, does not limit opportunities.

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For, put simply, Yorkshire and the rest of the North will struggle to fulfil its potential unless deep-rooted public health challenges are tackled – challenges which were self-evident long before Covid-19 disrupted the economic, political and social fabric of the country. The links between housing and health, for example, are tangible. This explains why funding for public health programmes, such as the agenda-setting approach being taken in Leeds to tackle childhood obesity, needs to be protected, and increased where possible, rather than being left to chance as national and local politicians recalibrate their spending priorities in the wake of the recession.

Health inequalities mean cities like Leeds, and the rest of the North, are struggling to fulfil their potential.

As Dr Seamus O’Neill of the Northern Health Science Alliance says today: “The time is now to act, we can’t do anything about the missed opportunities over the years that have gone but this will be perpetuated, the lack of opportunity and the disadvantage is compounded by every year and every generation that goes past.” The Yorkshire Post concurs – but do our politicians?

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

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Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson