Inequality in the North has cost Britain’s economy £ 7.3 billion in the first year of the pandemic

REPORT released today shows Northerners were more likely to die from COVID-19, spent almost a month and a half longer in confinement, suffered from poorer mental health and were poorer than the rest from England in the first year of the pandemic.

About half of the increase in COVID-19 mortality and two-thirds of the increase in all-cause mortality is due to higher preventable deprivation and poorer pre-pandemic health in the North.

The report from the Northern Health Science Alliance, Policy @ Manchester and the Northern National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboratives (NIHR ARCs) clearly highlighted the devastating impact of the pandemic on people in the north of England.

The report found:

  • People living in the North had a 17% higher death rate from COVID-19 than those in the rest of England. Their all-cause mortality rate was 14% higher.
  • About half of the increase in COVID-19 mortality in the North and two-thirds of the increase in all-cause mortality is due to potentially preventable higher deprivation and worse pre-pandemic health.
  • COVID-19 mortality in the northern care home was 26% higher than in the rest of England.
  • In the North, 10% more hospital beds were occupied by COVID patients than in the rest of England.
  • Rising mortality in the north of England could cost the national economy up to £ 7.3 billion in lost productivity. This will likely be a conservative underestimate given that the northern economy has also been hit the hardest.
  • On average, people living in the North had 41 more days of the most severe restrictions than residents of the rest of the country.
  • The North has seen a larger decline in mental well-being, more loneliness and higher rates of antidepressant prescriptions: there has been a 55% increase in the presence of minor psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and the depression in the North compared to a 50% increase in the rest of England.
  • Wages in the North were lower than in the rest of England before the pandemic and these have fallen further during the COVID-19 pandemic (from £ 543.90 to £ 541.30 per week) as wages increased in the rest of the country (from £ 600.80 to £ 604.00). per week).
  • Unemployment rate in the North was 19% higher than in the rest of England.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the country unevenly with a disproportionate effect on the north of England – increasing regional divisions over health and the economy. The Northern Health Sciences Alliance commissioned the report to understand the impact of the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic on health and productivity in the North and identify opportunities to improve health and regional productivity.

The report shows the uneven health and economic impacts of COVID-19 on the North with higher rates of death and unemployment linked to COVID-19.

The authors of the report make a series of recommendations to the government, including:

  • Place-based vaccination programs targeting vulnerable populations in the north of England.
  • Increase the resources of the NHS and local authorities and the provision of mental health services in the North. Invest in research on mental health interventions in the North.
  • Invest in increasing the capacity of hospitals in the North to help them catch up on non-COVID-19 health care.
  • Make health a key part of an integrated upgrading strategy.
  • Re-commit to ending child poverty. Increase family allowances, increase the child element of the universal credit by £ 20 per week, expand the provision of free childcare, remove the benefit cap and the two-child limit and expand the provision of free school meals. Invest in children’s services by increasing government grants to northern local authorities.
  • Maintain and increase the additional £ 1,000 universal credit funding.
  • Provide additional resources to local authorities and the NHS in the North by increasing the weighting of existing NHS health inequalities in the NHS funding formula in its reset and restoration plans.
  • Provide a £ 1 billion fund to tackle regional health inequalities and increase public health funding to local authorities to address higher levels of deprivation and public health needs in the North.
  • Create Nordic “Health for Life” centers offering a lifelong program of health and wellness counseling and support services ranging from prenatal programs to healthy aging programs.
  • Offer health and mental health promotion interventions with industry and employer, targeting the mental and physical health of employees.
  • Increase investment in health R&D in the north of England to create high value-added jobs, support local health care and stimulate the economy. Invest in North’s test and diagnostic infrastructure.
  • Strengthen the resilience of the people of the North by developing a national strategy of action on the social determinants of health with the aim of reducing health inequalities, with a focus on children.

Dr Luke Munford from the University of Manchester said: “The pandemic has hit us all hard in different ways, but our report shows that people living in the North were much more likely to be hit hardest, both in terms of health and wealth. The fact that more than half of the increase in COVID-19 mortality and two-thirds of all-cause mortality were potentially preventable should be a real wake-up call. We need to invest in the health of people living in the North to ensure they are able to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic. “

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