Thursday, February 7, 2019

Health Is Still a Problem; Professor Hits out at Lack of Long-Term Plan

Health Is Still a Problem; Professor Hits out at Lack of Long-Term Plan

ALEADING professor has criticised the Government and medical staff for failing to address the root causes of health problems in the North East.

David Hunter, Professor of Health Policy and Management at Durham University, said too much money was spent on Government initiatives, such as the national Change4Life campaign, which act as a "band aid" for health problems and fail to provide any long-term solutions.

He said closing the income gap between the social classes was key to addressing and improving health inequalities in the UK and, in particular, the North East.

"The big problem in health inequalities is the income gap between social groups and health problems are arising from this," he explained.

"A lot of issues such as alcohol abuse, mental health problems and teenage pregnancies are prevalent within low-income families and the Government needs to address this by reassessing the tax and benefit system, and increasing the amount of money given to poorer families.

"Too much funding is being spent on Government initiatives that are used to tackle causes of health problems as opposed to the symptoms, which can impact negatively on communities. "Campaigns such as Change4Life do have some benefit, but the lasting effect is short-lived and are a quick fix to the health problems we are seeing - they are not life-changing."

The North East has the worst levels of deprivation and life expectancy and the highest rate of early deaths from cancer.

Recent Department of Health figures show that although the region continues to make rapid progress in addressing health inequalities, the North East's rates of smoking in pregnancy and breastfeeding initiation are the worst in England.

Prof Hunter added: "The North East is a paradox in that we have some of the best healthcare services in the country but some of the worst health statistics.

"One factor contributing to this is the culture and history of the region. In particular people are more reluctant to visit their GP if they have a health concern as they feel intimidated by doctors.

"More Government money should be spent on health trainers who work as a go-between the patient and the doctor."

Prof Hunter's views come as an independent review by Prof Sir Michael Marmot, commissioned by the Department of Health, was published and outlined the most effective strategies for reducing health inequalities in England from 2010. …


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