Responding to the King's Fund report which shows people from communities with higher levels of deprivation are more likely to have longer waits than communities with lower levels of deprivation, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation said:
"Post pandemic there was an opportunity to really look at how health inequalities were arising in local systems and how they could be tackled as organisations sought to recover services, but this report shows that some areas are further along than others in their efforts towards an inclusive recovery.
"We know that people from deprived areas face longer waits compared to people from wealthier areas, and health leaders know there is much more work to be on tackling health inequalities but, as this report highlights, there are a range of reasons that may be hindering progress including a lack of analytical resources and accountability.
"However, the critical success factor seems to be clear vision from national leaders on the importance of tackling inequalities. Leadership starts at the very top and unfortunately the message that has emerged from the centre has been that equality, diversity and inclusion work isn’t important.
"But these findings only serve to highlight why EDI roles are so important, and everyone should have equitable access to care. While there seems to have been a failure to prioritise this by the government our members understand the vital importance of this work and 86% of local health systems are participating in our new project which aims to understand how health inequalities funding has been spent, and provide practical guidance to support ICSs to adopt best practice in health inequalities interventions."