GFX: Courtesy RPS

RPS has joined an alliance of over 30 health and care bodies to call for urgent action to tackle the growing problem of health inequalities in Wales.

In a letter sent today, 34 organisations, including royal colleges, professional associations and third sector organisations, have urged the political parties in Wales to commit to a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities, ensuring representation of bodies with a vested interest in health, social care and the wider determinants of health.

A recent poll, commissioned by the Royal College of Physicians for the launch of the UK Inequalities in Health Alliance, found widespread public concern over health inequalities and overwhelming support for action.

In Wales:

  • 82 per cent of respondents want to see a government strategy to reduce inequalities in health
  • 61 per cent think governments across the UK should be doing more to address health inequalities
  • 63 per cent are concerned that the health gap between wealthy and deprived areas is growing
  • 82 per cent think that all parts of government should have to consider the impact of their policies on people who are less well off, with more than half strongly agreeing
  • 25 per cent of respondents selected long-term health conditions as the health inequality they are most concerned about, with 17 per cent opting for poor mental health.

The call for urgent action on health inequalities has been made ahead of the Welsh Parliament elections in May and focuses on the growing link between poverty and poor health outcomes which have been further highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It urges all political parties to commit to a clear action plan and milestones for delivery.

Collaboration with partners across every sector is asked for to ensure the variety of issues that cause health inequalities can be addressed.

The letter points out that tackling health inequalities should not sit solely within one minister’s portfolio; tackling it should be a priority running through all government activity and be a priority for all organisations.

Elen Jones, RPS director for Wales, said: “The need to tackle health inequalities has never been so urgent. The Covid-19 pandemic has amplified the negative impact on health outcomes for those in our most deprived communities. The pharmacy profession, and particularly the network of community pharmacies already helps to buck the trend of the inverse care law, ensuring all communities have access to health expertise.

“It’s clear, however, that a wide-reaching strategy is needed to tackle the root cause of inequalities in health. Collective action at national and local levels is now needed and we want to see a cross-government commitment in Wales to move this important work forward.”

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