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Investment in deprived areas cuts avoidable death

Investment in deprived areas cuts avoidable death

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Increased NHS spending on deprived areas has been associated with a drop in health inequalities, researchers claim. 

The authors calculated that each additional £10 million of resources spent in a deprived area is linked to four fewer male deaths and two fewer female deaths in 100,000 people. 

A study published on BMJ.com found that a health inequalities policy introduced in 1999 resulted in reduction in avoidable mortality for the most deprived areas. 

Researchers from the Universities of Liverpool and Durham analysed trends between 2001 and 2011 in the 20% most deprived and 20% most affluent local authorities in England. 

Over that period, NHS spending increased by 81% in the most deprived area (from £1,0474 to £1,938 per head) and by 70% in the most affluent areas (from £881 to £1502 per head). 

The increase was linked to a reduction in the gap between deprived and affluent areas in terms of deaths from causes amenable to healthcare. 

However, there was no significant association between increases in resources and improvements in avoidable deaths in more affluent areas. 

The researchers stated: Our study suggests that any change in resource allocation policy that reduces the proportion of funding allocated to deprived areas may reverse this trend and widen geographical inequalities in mortality from these causes.”

These results are encouraging and provide evidence for continuing to target NHS resources at deprived areas, say Azeem Majeed and Michael Soljak from Imperial College London in an accompanying editorial.

However, they warn this may be more difficult in the current political and financial climate “as the coalition government has sharply curtailed the growth in NHS spending that England previously experienced.”

They point out that NHS spending “is only one component of an effective strategy to reduce health inequalities” and say other key areas such as housing, education, and employment, and the wider determinants of health inequalities, “also need to be dealt with by national and local government and by other public sector organisations.”

The full study is available to view on the BMJ website [paywalled]. 

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Comments

Health inequalities will now come under Public Health funding rather than NHS funding now, but if there was a single area that could receive funding I pretty much know where Public Health should be concentrating their resources (not at my practice incidently)in my area - the health stats I've seen are pretty clear on this.

They won't do this type of funding though, as Public Health need to procure via tenders and practices in those areas are too overwhelmed looking after their deprived areas to have the time to do this. That GPs are pretty much the only government paid officials that many people in deprived areas will allow themselves to trust and even take heed of, is seen as an irrelevance over free market economics, which is a tragedy for those who would clearly benefit.

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