Health Inequalities: Office for Health Improvement and Disparities — [Derek Twigg in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 26th January 2022.

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Photo of Peter Dowd Peter Dowd Labour, Bootle 2:30 pm, 26th January 2022

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities and health inequalities.

It is a real pleasure to be here under your stewardship this afternoon, Mr Twigg. I thank all those who have come along—all on the Labour side of the House—to debate this important issue, which affects so many of our constituents. I thank the organisations that have provided me with information to help me articulate my points, including the Royal College of Physicians, the Inequalities in Health Alliance, the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Maternity Action, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the NHS Federation, the UK Vaping Industry Association, Kidney Research UK, the Health Foundation, the Terrence Higgins Trust, Global Blood Therapeutics, the Local Government Association, the Institute of Alcohol Studies, the Children’s Alliance and, as ever, the House of Commons Library, which brings much of this together. I do not believe I have missed any organisation out. If I have, I apologise.

Each organisation made helpful and constructive comments about the matter we are debating today. The extent of health inequalities is remarkably wide—in fact, I felt I understood the extent of such inequalities, but the information from those organisations has widened my knowledge significantly. Each of the organisations had the decency to send me information, so I will read out comments from each of them, if I may.

Alongside its key ask for a cross-governmental strategy to reduce health inequalities, the Inequalities in Health Alliance also asks the Government to

“commence the socio-economic duty, section 1 of the Equality Act 2010” and to

“adopt a ‘child health in all policies’ approach.”

The Health Foundation notes:

“Public health funding grants to councils have been reduced by £700 million in real terms from 2015/16 to 2019/20. In the Spending Review published in October 2021, the Government said it would maintain the public health grant ‘in real terms’ until 2024/25, but has yet to confirm the amount for 2022/23.”

We are only a couple of months away from the beginning of that financial year. The Terrence Higgins Trust asked me to ask whether the Minister can confirm when local authorities will have their public health grant allocations published. Other organisations also asked that question.

The Institute of Alcohol Studies said:

“People from the most deprived groups in England are 60% more likely to die or be admitted to hospital due to alcohol than those from the least deprived… We believe that for any levelling up agenda to be comprehensively successful, it must address alcohol harm as a top priority.”

The LGA said:

“Councils have seen a significant reduction to their public health budgets in the period between 2015/16 and 2019/20. The recent announcement of a real-terms protection of the public health grant is welcome, but is unlikely to address the impact of the past reductions to funding.”

Cancer Research said that its modelling estimates suggest that

“30,000 extra cases of cancer in the UK each year are attributable to socio-economic deprivation. The two biggest preventable causes of cancer—smoking and overweight and obesity—are more prevalent in deprived groups.”

Kidney Research said:

“Around 3 million people in the UK have kidney disease and every day, 20 people develop kidney failure…. There is also a gender bias associated with kidney disease—women are more likely to be diagnosed with kidney disease and are at higher risk of developing end stage renal failure than men.”