By Dr Sohail Abbas, director – Reducing Inequalities Alliance, Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership.
Martin Luther King Jr said in his famous “I have a dream” speech that we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to accept that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
We, people working in Bradford district and Craven, refuse to accept that it is ok that:
A child born in Manningham or Keighley is not able to reach their full potential because of poverty, trauma, lack of education and safe environment. And that continues from generation to generation.
1 in 3 children live in poverty and 1 in 5 children are victims of childhood trauma leading to downward spiral in their adulthood.
A child dies because of mould in house.
A child goes to school hungry and does not have access to heathy food.
That women from different ethnic groups and those who live in more deprived areas have worst pregnancy experience and lose their babies.
That ever more people are homeless and for homeless people and people with a learning disability to die 30 years younger than general population.
To spend two years in ill health and live a year less for every mile you are away from affluence.
There is as much financial case to reduce inequalities as there is ethical and moral case. Michael Marmot’s work calculated the treatment costs of health inequalities to be in the region of £5.5bn a year. Productivity losses in the economy due to health inequalities amount to £33bn, while a further £32bn a year is spent on higher welfare payments. Billions of ££s are spent on late cancer diagnosis, cost of prescribing to treat long term conditions that are more prevalent in deprived areas and unplanned admissions and A&E attendances as a result of complications of these long term conditions stemming from the wider health and social inequalities.
COVID-19 showed us the mirror and we saw the inequalities right in front of us, killing our people, our friends, and our loved ones. COVID-19 taught us a lesson and we must not forget that lesson. We must work together to and the time to do that is now. We shall not be satisfied until we build a place where our chances of living a long, happy, and healthy life is determined by our shared purpose, resilience of our communities and positioning of our collective resources rather than by who we are, where we live or how much we earn. Our people in deprived, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual neighbourhoods of inner city Bradford and Keighley and people in rural areas of Craven will not feel dismissed when it comes to access, experience, and outcomes of healthcare.
We align all our efforts, totality of our resources and our accountability and governance mechanisms to improve population health and reduce inequalities. We truly plan, design, and deliver our services based on our population needs and we invest in frontline workforce, in prevention and in our communities.
That requires us to first develop ourselves, develop our awareness of inequalities, take action that is within our sphere of control and become the advocates, and second to bring more people to this cause, develop networks and relationships, support each other, and create a movement. That movement is the ultimate goal of the Reducing Inequalities Alliance. So let’s refresh our pledges, revive our energies, and strengthen our alliance as we need this on the long journey ahead. And have hope, as it is hope that gives the strength to achieve impossible goals.