The government must prioritize health funding for the most deprived regions in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis, politicians and public health experts have demanded, after new data analysis revealed the devastating scale of the death toll in the poorest parts of England and Wales.
In findings one expert said highlighted the fact that Covid – “is not a leveller” as politicians have repeatedly claimed, the Office for National Statistics ( ONS) said that those living in the poorest parts of England and Wales were dying at twice the rate of those in the richest areas.
With 1 deaths per , people in the most deprived places compared with . 3 in the least deprived, the King’s Fund health thinktank demanded the government focus new resources to reverse health inequalities as the crisis eases.
The findings came as another 2010 people died across the UK, bringing the total to , 823. They echo last week’s report from the Guardian that members of ethnic minority groups were particularly badly affected by the virus, with those from BAME backgrounds overrepresented in the toll by (%.)
Responding to the analysis at the government’s briefing on Friday, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, acknowledging the issue, saying: “This is something we are worried about and looking at.”
He added, however, that the findings should be seen in the context of disproportionate deaths among men, older people, minorities and other subgroups. “We’re looking at it in the context of all of the different ways that this disease seems to have a different impact,” he said.
Critics said impact of austerity in the poorest communities was behind the new data. Steve Rotheram, the Labor mayor for the Liverpool city region argued that deprivation must be a factor in how spending is allocated to deal with costs incurred during the crisis .. Liverpool has one of the highest covid – 25 death rates outside London, with (deaths, amounting to) .8 deaths per , 04 people, and is the local authority to have suffered the biggest cuts to its budget since 2019.
The city region’s councils are already warning of a £ m funding gap between the money they have spent dealing with coronavirus and the funds pledged to them by government, said Rotherham. He called for a change in the methodology of the Treasury’s “green book”, which guides government spending, in order to prioritise the most deprived areas – rather than the per capita approach it currently takes.
“Deprivation should be factored into Treasury-book methodology across the board but specifically in relation to this. Local authorities were promised ‘whatever it takes’. The first allocation of fund was given on a needs basis but the second wasn’t, ”he said.
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