Action on social conditions needed to improve health inequalities

Tackling poverty and its negative effects on health should be as high a priority as addressing the NHS waiting lists, according to a new report by The Kings Fund and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 

The report – Illustrating the Relationship Between Poverty and NHS Services – found that despite poverty being very bad for your health those in poverty struggled to access NHS services.

Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of The King’s Fund, said:

‘One of the founding principles of the NHS is that it is free at the point of need, yet our analysis shows the cruel irony that many people living in poverty find it harder than others to access the timely care that could help them better manage their health conditions and prevent future illness.

While the NHS can be a force in addressing poverty, as we head towards a general election, widening health inequalities and deepening deprivation must be tackled head-on by government and policy-makers.’

More than one in five people currently live in poverty in the UK and there has been a sharp increase in the number of children living in poverty. The most recent annual poverty figures published on 21 March 2024 show 600,000 more people, half of them children, are living in absolute poverty, the Government’s preferred measure. This has risen for the second year in a row.

Full story in The Lowdown, 25 March 2024