Government must do more on regional health inequality as report shows North West had 25% higher Covid mortality rate

The report found that mortality rates in England dropped during 2020, with the North West worst affected

Government must do more on regional health inequality as report shows North West had 25% higher Covid mortality rate (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Local authorities will not wait for central government to take action on inequality in light of falling life expectancy, but they must be given the resources they need, the head of a review into health inequalities has said.

Speaking at an event to launch the report, Sir Michael Marmot, Professor of Epidemiology at University College London (UCL), revealed that Greater Manchester saw a 25 per cent higher Covid mortality rate compared to England generally.

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At a glance: 5 key points

– Professor Marmot headed up a review by UCL’s Institute of Health Equity, commissioned by Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership

– The review proposes a framework and recommendations to help Greater Manchester “build back better” after the pandemic, which can be applied to other regions

– Life expectancy fell in England in 2020, by 1.3 years for men and 0.9 years for women

– Improvements in life expectancy have generally slowed since 2010, which Professor Marmot said is attributable to austerity

– Greater Manchester had a 25% higher Covid mortality rate compared to England average, contributing to a more rapid decrease in life expectancy in that region than the rest of the country, by 1.6 years for men and 1.2 years for women

What’s been said?

Speaking at an event to launch the new report, Professor Marmot said: “I’d like to think what we are doing in Greater Manchester will be very important for Greater Manchester, but will also potentially provide a blueprint for the rest of the country.

“If we are serious about levelling up, this is the way to do it. And if the Government doesn’t get active, what they’ll find is that local governments all around the country are doing it.

“The time to do it is now, the reason for doing it is to create greater equity of health and wellbeing.”

“I didn’t get the sense that people were looking at this saying: ‘It’s too awful, there’s nothing we can do about it.’ They say: ‘We want to make Greater Manchester the best place for children to grow up and for people to flourish.’

“But they can’t do it without Government funding as well. The resources are vitally important.

“So in a way we are saying if the Government’s serious about levelling up, this is what needs to happen.

“You need to have city regions like Greater Manchester wanting to take their own destiny into their hands and create a better environment for everyone to live in, but it does need central Government funding as well.”