Protracted Covid and pandemic health problems cost UK economy £8billion and 400,000 workers, report says

The UK has 400,000 fewer workers than before the pandemic as Covid and other illnesses pushed people out of their jobs at an estimated cost of £8billion, a new report has found.

Deep inequalities and the government’s failure to improve Britain’s health have meant that Covid has caused more economic damage and more deaths than in many other countries, the Institute of Health think tank has concluded. Public Policy Research (IPPR).

He warned that Covid-19 had exposed fundamental problems and structural weaknesses in the UK’s approach to both its economy and its public health.

According to the latest official statistics, around 1.7 million people – 2.7% of the population – had self-reported Covid symptoms more than four weeks after being infected.

The IPPR report found that this had a major impact on the economy. He estimated that one million workers are now “absent” from the labor force compared to the pre-pandemic trend.

About 400,000 of them are no longer working due to health factors such as the long Covid and mental health issues. Researchers have estimated that it costs the UK £8billion a year in lost productivity.

Lord Darzi said the country now faces a choice over its health

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The report argued that ineffective public health policies left the UK vulnerable to the long-term impacts of the pandemic. Policy decisions have meant that people are living shorter lives, with more years spent in poor health and facing greater obstacles to staying and continuing in work, the IPPR said.

He argued that the relationship between health and the economy is a decisive factor in the UK’s ‘terminal’ productivity, low growth and regional inequality.

Poor health drives large numbers of people out of work, especially in poorer areas. For example, official figures show that women in the most deprived local communities live only two-thirds as many years in good health as those in the most affluent areas.

Lord Ara Darzi, a leading surgeon, independent peer and co-chair of the new Health and Welfare Commission, said the country must now choose between continuing on a trajectory of “poor health, low public investment and low growth” or commit to “rapidly improving overall health and, in turn, leveraging that health for greater prosperity and security.”

Dame Sally Davies says the scars of the pandemic run deep

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Despite government claims that it is leveling the country, Britain remains highly unequal. Local-level analysis by the IPPR has found that someone living in North East Lincolnshire can expect to fall into poor health eight years earlier than the UK average, while the outcome of their work is also rated at £8 less per hour than average.

The report says it is a “vicious cycle” – factors such as lack of job opportunities and poverty can harm people’s health; in turn, poor health can undermine people’s work and the productivity of a place.

People living in the most economically deprived parts of the country – including Blackpool, Knowsley and Barking & Dagenham – can expect to fall into poor health in their late 50s, five years earlier than the national average and 12 earlier than people living in healthier regions. areas.

This is largely due to factors such as poor quality housing, bad jobs, low wages and chronic stress, according to the report.

He believes that if the health standards of all local authorities were aligned with the healthiest 10%, the UK would see a “major increase” in productivity.

Workers in Blackpool – who currently have the fewest healthy years of any region in the UK – would see their output rise by 3.9%, according to the IPPR.

Sir Oliver Letwin, a former cabinet minister and member of the Health and Welfare Commission, highlighted the huge investments in public health in the Victorian era that led to rapid economic growth.

“It’s time to rekindle that spirit and usher in a new era of better health, greater health equality and greater prosperity,” he said.

Dame Sally Davies, former chief medical officer and co-chair of the commission, said: “Although restrictions have eased, the scars of the pandemic remain deep on the health of the country and our economy.

“Not only are we facing a severe cost of living crisis, due in part to pandemic-induced inflation, but we are also experiencing a labor shortage due to poor health which is holding back the economy. .

“It has never been more important to put good health at the heart of our society and our economy, and our commission will present a plan to achieve this.

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