The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into sharp focus the issue of health inequalities in the UK and exposed the consequences of a longstanding failure to tackle this deep-rooted and multi-faceted problem.
This report reflects engagement with NHS Confederation members, gleaned from focused discussions and webinars between June and September 2020. It also draws on the results of a member survey of more than 200 healthcare leaders on health inequalities and how to make progress in this area.
This engagement is showing an increasing awareness that the NHS has not designed services in a way that accounts for the diverse needs of communities, and as a result, the outcomes experienced have been unequal.
The report does not offer a comprehensive analysis of all dimensions of health inequalities or policy approaches. Instead, it provides an overview of feedback and reflections from our members on how – and if – the COVID-19 pandemic will be a turning point for the NHS.
- Our engagement with members is showing an increasing awareness that the NHS has not designed services in a way that accounts for the diverse needs of communities. As a result, the outcomes experienced have been unequal.
- Members recognise that having diverse leadership must be part of the overall strategy to tackle health inequalities, but there are differing views as to whether it is possible in the medium term to have leadership that reflects the communities being served.
- Leaders support the need for a cross-government approach and joined-up national policy for issues such as homelessness and housing, poverty and support for marginalised and vulnerable groups.
- Health leaders are committed to prioritising and addressing health inequalities, but only two in five feel they have the knowledge, tools and support available to them to play their part in addressing health inequalities and improving health outcomes for marginalised communities.
Examples are also highlighted in the report, of health and care partnerships that are taking action to tackle health inequalities in their local area.
Read the shared learning from Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership
Read the shared learning from West Yorkshire and Harrogate Partnership
Read the shared learning from Suffolk and North East Essex ICS