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Health Inequalities

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:53 pm on 4th March 2020.

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Photo of Philippa Whitford Philippa Whitford Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Health and Social Care), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union) 4:53 pm, 4th March 2020

Obviously I welcome what the Minister has said, but she talked about starting to take action and, given that we have had Conservative-led Governments for the last decade, I find it a bit surprising to hear talk of starting to take action now.

Health is much wider than the NHS. This is a confusion that many people make. Health is about everything else. In his acclaimed review “Fair Society, Healthy Lives”, Michael Marmot defined the social determinants of health: the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. He explained that the variation was driven by inequity in power, money and resource. The review set out how public expenditure could act on the social determinants to reduce health inequalities. The problem is that, although it was welcomed by the coalition Government—there was even a public health White Paper—no action was really taken. In contrast, in 2016, we saw essentially the repeal of the Child Poverty Act 2010, including the reduction targets to get more children out of poverty. In the 2020 Marmot review, therefore, we see not success over the past 10 years, but things going in the wrong direction.