Posted on Thursday 7 December 2017
The Director of Public Health Gateshead’s Annual Report 2017 is now available, revealing the shocking health inequalities faced by many Gateshead residents.
‘Inequalities: it never rains but it pours’, is the second annual report by Director, Alice Wiseman. In it she reveals that two babies, born on the same day in Gateshead, could have as much as a 10 year difference in life expectancy due entirely to the circumstances into which they are born.
“This is just one of the many shocking statistics that are included in the compilation of this report,” says Alice. “And it doesn’t stop there. It is not fair that life chances are marked before these babies have even taken their first breath. The burden of ill-health falls hardest and fastest on those from low income backgrounds.”
She added: “Once born into a cycle of disadvantage, a person is more likely to experience, and accumulate, a range of poor outcomes over the course of their life, with those experiencing multiple difficulties often suffering unthinkable adversity, stigma and isolation.”
The report explores how inequalities are experienced through the eyes of people in Gateshead and it gives a platform for those people whose voices are often not heard loudly enough – from teenagers, carers, senior residents to people experiencing multiple disadvantage.
Case studies reveal how people cope, and how they’ve been supported, as well as putting forward key recommendations that should be adopted in the future to bridge the health inequalities gap.
Alice explained: “While there has been some fantastic work undertaken in the borough, inequalities are incredibly difficult to overcome. Therefore action to address inequalities is needed at both Government and local level. We need to consider our approach in how existing resources (people, time and money) are distributed so that those communities experiencing the greatest disadvantage receive the greatest level of resource.”
Three key recommendations come out of the report:
- The Health and Wellbeing Strategy should be renewed, adopting a much longer term approach, with a strengthened vision to address inequalities. This needs to include measures to address the social determinants of health alongside prevention and early intervention at every level.
- Partners in Gateshead should shift the focus from managing the burden of ill health to promoting actions that create the right conditions for good health through the employment of a robust Health in all Policies approach.
- The Council and its partners should target resources to those individuals and communities most in need. Robust evaluation of reach and impact should be undertaken regularly using a Health Equity Audit approach.
This call to action coincides with the Council’s recently launched campaign for tackling unfairness and inequalities across the board in Gateshead.
‘Making Gateshead a place where everyone thrives’ is the rallying call of the Council which has set out a series of five pledges that will underpin how the Council works in the future.
Council Leader Martin Gannon explained: “The Director of Public Health’s Annual Report is a timely reminder of the unfairness and inequalities that are all around us and which we are determined to face head on.
“If anyone needs a reason why we need to take a radical and far reaching approach to this issue, they should read this report. It sets out the facts and real life issues faced by local people which are simply not acceptable in the 21st century.”
Find out more about the Council pledges and how local people can get involved in the Council’s campaign.
The full report ‘Inequalities: it never rains but it pours’ is also available on our health webpage.