The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) chairman Nitin Sodha is among the signatories alongside representatives from health charities, pressure groups and think-tanks of a declaration urging Theresa May to ensure the government’s 10-year NHS plan reduces health inequalities and the life expectancy gap between the wealthy and poor.
The plan, which is designed to build on the Five Year Forward View’s vision of moving care out of hospitals and into local communities, will largely focus on four areas including workforce, technology, buildings and productivity, the final plans of which are expected at the end of the year.
Sodha and 12 other co-signatories reminded the prime minister (pictured) of her first statement after taking on the role at Downing Street when she said in July 2016 that her government would fight “against the burning injustice that, if you’re born poor, you will die on average nine years earlier than others.”
They warned her that the plan and a promised £20 billion increase in funding for the NHS within five years, some of the revenue of which May contentiously said would be generated by a Brexit dividend, would fail unless they are focused on reducing health inequalities.
An NPA spokesperson, said: “The NHS 10-year plan is an opportunity to redouble efforts to reduce health inequality within and beyond the health service. The signatories to this declaration want to push health inequality decisively up the agenda of politicians, the NHS and wider society.”
The declaration, launched at a summit hosted by the NPA, called for “all parts of government and society to put their shoulders to the wheel in the pursuit of health equality.”
The full statement
‘Let’s work together to end health inequality’
Inequalities in health characterised by huge variations in life expectancy are unacceptable in this, the 70th anniversary of the NHS, which was created out of the ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth.
Health inequality appears to have been increasing for much of the past 10 years, and indeed has done so at many points since 1948 when the NHS was formed. But it is not inevitable that this trend continues.
Excellent health and social care services must be available to the communities and people most in need. If healthcare makes a difference, but is not distributed according to need, the NHS itself widens inequalities in health.
Therefore, one of the acid tests of the forthcoming long-term NHS plan should be whether the poorest patients and communities benefit from the new investment promised.
We acknowledge the significance of the wider determinants of health, such as childcare, housing and education, as well as adopting practices within the NHS that promote wellness. So it must be that all parts of government and society put their shoulders to the wheel in the pursuit of health equality.
The Prime Minister called it a “burning injustice” that, “if you’re born poor, you will die on average nine years earlier than others.” We agree. Let us all work together to bring that injustice to an end.
The signatories are: Nitin Sodha, Chair National Pharmacy Association, Lord Victor Adebowale CBE, Chief Executive Turning Point, Jim Minton, Chief Executive Toynbee Hall, Stephen Watkins, Vice President UK Faculty of Public Health, Rachel Power, Chief Executive Patients Association, Merron Simpson, Chief Executive New NHS Alliance, Dr Adam Todd, Reader in Pharmaceutical Public Health Newcastle University, David Lock QC, Paul Farmer CBE, Chief Executive Mind, Bridget Turner, Director of Policy and Care Improvement Diabetes UK, Andrew Kaye, Head of Policy & Influence Macmillan Cancer Support, Matina Loizou, Co-Chair Prescription Charges Coalition, Dr James Noyes, Respublica.