Coronavirus Worsening Health Inequalities in UK, Labor Warns

Coronavirus Worsening Health Inequalities in UK, Labor Warns

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Britain’s Labor Party will today warn the coronavirus outbreak is exacerbating health inequalities in the country and adding to a hidden burden of disease and deaths.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said community testing and contact tracing to isolate infected people should be rolled out in the most deprived areas of the UK, with priority for areas with a large black and minority ethnic population, The Independent reported.

He also called for NHS funding to be targeted to prevent non-COVID related health outcomes from being affected as a result of pressures on the service.

Labor wants the government to set up a health inequalities commission to examine the social and economic effects of the lockdown on existing health inequalities and to report on trends on life expectancy and health.

It comes after an analysis from the Office for National Statistics last week showed death rates from coronavirus in more deprived areas were double those elsewhere.

There are also mounting concerns that the impact of coronavirus on the NHS and the cancellation of thousands of routine surgeries and appointments could be building up a backlog of ill-health.

Cancer referrals have fallen by around 75 per cent with around 200,000 people a week are no longer being screened for bowel, breast and cervical cancer.

Health chiefs have also voiced their concerns over the dramatic fall in patients seeking help for chest pains, strokes and other diseases.

Labor said the situation could contribute to a growing burden of unmet need adding that cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and lung disease all have higher death rates at every age in more deprived populations.

Poorer areas also suffer from higher rates of mental health problems and deaths from suicide.

Shadow health and social care secretary Jonathan Ashworth MP, said: “Coronavirus thrives on inequality. And inequality in health is the worst inequality of all leading to people dying sooner because of poverty.

“While this virus is a deadly risk for everyone, we can’t ignore its disproportionate impact in poorer and BAME communities.

“After ten years of austerity life expectancy has stalled and even gone backwards for the poorest 20 per cent of women. Without bold and urgent action, COVID-19 will widen health inequalities. It’s a ticking time bomb – ministers must act now.”

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