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Health Inequalities

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:24 pm on 4th March 2020.

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Photo of Virendra Sharma Virendra Sharma Labour, Ealing, Southall 6:24 pm, 4th March 2020

Health inequalities remain acute in Ealing, with men and women in the most deprived areas living half a decade less than those in the richest part of the borough. We have also seen insidious rises in infant mortality, tuberculosis and winter deaths. For that to happen in one of the richest countries in the world, where we have come to expect incremental improvements in health, is a tragedy and the true legacy of 10 years of Tory misrule.

Ethnic minorities suffer from serious health inequalities, particularly with regard to organ donation. Last month I met a brave young boy from my constituency called Rohan and his wonderful mother, Sonia. Rohan is 12 years old and has been on the kidney transplant waiting list since 2018. The lack of awareness and insufficient promotion of organ donation in black, Asian and minority ethnic communities holds back young people such as Rohan from reaching their full potential. I can only encourage people to come forward and opt into the system.

The Government must also follow through on their overdue tobacco control plan White Paper to help to move us towards a smoke-free Britain. We need specific recommendations on oral tobacco, which disproportionately affects BAME communities.

The Government must also reverse the harsh cuts they have made to public health spending, which have made it far harder for local councils to provide evidence-led advice, particularly on mental health, sexual health, smoking cessation and drug and alcohol services. Public health spending is a small percentage of overall health spending, but it can have a drastic impact on the lives of the most vulnerable.

The Government must address overall levels of deprivation and urgently increase the minimum wage to a real living wage. I urge them to step up to their responsibilities and to do what they have promised: level up this country.