'Covid19 has shone a very bright light on inequality'

Sheffield's health and wellbeing board has been looking at how the city can address inequalities in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday, 30th June 2020, 10:56 am
Updated Tuesday, 30th June 2020, 10:57 am

Ahead of a meeting of the board, members were given a report which drew on national research into the impact of coronavirus and existing health inequalities.

The report also gave recommendations for what steps authorities should be taking locally to tackle the issues.

When presenting the report in the meeting, Mr Fell said: "We all know the impact of covid19 has been inequitable in every way, directly in terms of the numbers of people infected between the haves and have nots, the impact of those infections both in terms of hospitalisation and those who have died and the wider social impact of lockdown we know has been inequitable.

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Greg Fell

“What covid has done is simply shone a very, very bright light on something we all know."

A study on health equity pre coronavirus, disparities in the risk and outcomes of covid19 and understanding the impact of covid19 on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups were highlighted in the report.

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The findings of these showed healthy life expectancy had stalled in the UK for the first time since at least 1900, that the UK government had not prioritised health inequalities despite concerning trends, BAME groups were disproportionately affected by coronavirus - which Mr Fell said was an issue of structural inequality - and that the largest disparity found was by age.

Officers who wrote the board report highlighting these, said: "We need to ask ourselves whether we have made anything like the sort of progress that we would want to on these issues. Like most other places and cities, we probably haven’t.

"So, while we should recognise that ‘fixing’ some of the issues in these reports will require a national government response, there are things that we can do within Sheffield.

"We need to decide how we are going to address these issues with renewed purpose, and to move from focussed discussion and intent, to tangible action and impact."

Some examples of what Sheffield is currently doing to address these included a population wide questionnaire to understand people's experiences, establishing a race equality commission to look at structural inequalities in the city, small grants to support community groups finding out about the concerns of their communities and rapid health impact assessments to help stakeholders focus work in the most impactul areas.

Going forward, officers recommended a number of steps authorities needed to take including doing more research on the impact of coronavirus and - working with community groups - fund, develop and implement covid19 education and prevention campaigns.

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