Health November 20, 2018
Tackling health inequalities to provide £13.2bn boost for economy, says new report

By Daniel Male - Accountable Care Journal

Poor health has been linked with the North’s low productivity for the first time in a major new report by six northern universities.

The report, entitled ‘Health for Wealth: Building a Healthier Northern Powerhouse for UK Productivity,’ was commissioned by the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), an alliance of universities, hospitals and AHSNs across the North of England, to look at the relationship between the North’s poor health and its poorer productivity.

Tackling health inequalities between the North and South would put an extra £13.2bn into the economy, says the report. Improving health in the North is speculated to lead to substantial economic gains, reducing the £4 gap in productivity per-person per-hour between the Northern Powerhouse and the rest of England by 30 per cent, or £1.20 per-person per-hour.

Calling for more funding for prevention strategies, Professor Clare Bambra, lead author of the report, says: “For the Northern Powerhouse to reach its full potential there needs to be increased investment in place-based public health in local authorities. ” She added; “Work needs to be done to improve labour market participation and job retention among people with a health condition in the region. ”

Focusing on the importance of employment, the report also reveals that people in the North experiencing a spell of ill health are 39 per cent more likely to lose their job compared to their counterparts in the rest of England.

This is likely to have a detrimental impact on both physical and mental health. The report also suggests that a 3.5 per cent increase in the proportion of people in good health in the North may result in a 10 per cent reduction in the employment gap between the Northern Powerhouse and the rest of England.

Considering the wider impact, Dr Hakim Yadi, CEO of the NHSA, said: “Post-Brexit we need to build a stronger, healthier UK economy and the North of England is a key part of this. By improving health we can also make a direct impact on productivity and that is something no government should ignore. ”

Among the recommendations made in the report were calls for central government to increase investment in ‘place-based’ public health strategies. This could be achieved by supporting local authorities which in turn would boost labour market participation and job retention.

Further recommendations were made for stakeholders in the region to implement ‘health first’ programmes. These would include local integrated care systems and health and wellbeing boards to commission more health management and prevention strategies.

The report was launched on November 20 in Newcastle with Dame Jackie Daniel CEO of Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Ben Houchen Metro Mayor of Tees Valley, Nick Forbes Leader of Newcastle Council, Dr Hakim Yadi CEO of the NHSA and Clare Bambra, Professor of Public Health at Newcastle University.

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