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Theme 5: Reduce health inequalities

Summary :: Our Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy :: Theme 5: Reduce health inequalities

Inequalities are a fundamental underlying feature of most health outcomes in Medway. Rates of death are higher in those who are more disadvantaged, as are emergency hospital admissions and rates of long-term illness. Health outcomes are not only worse in those who are the most disadvantaged; the inequalities follow a gradient and as such the response also needs to follow a gradient. This has been called “proportionate universalism” and simply means that health and social care provisions need to be made available to all, with increasing effort needed for those who are increasingly disadvantaged.

The Marmot Review identified six key areas for action, the first and highest priority area being to give every child the best start in life. This is because there is strong evidence that what happens in the early years has an effect on future employment prospects and health and well-being outcomes.

As well as the moral imperative to tackle inequalities there is a good business argument to do so. Emergency hospital admissions or more years spent with a long-term illness mean greater costs for health and social care systems. Taking action through prevention, education and improved health care to reduce inequalities by raising levels of health and well-being to reduce inequalities will result in reduced costs for the health and social care system caused by the major health and social care problems faced by Medway now and in the immediate future.