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Responding to the evidence on inequalities in health: what's needed now?

Blog by David Buck, Kings Fund, March 2020

In early January I highlighted three things related to the public’s health coming in the next three to six months. Two of those are now here: the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Longevity’s report, The health of the nation: a strategy for healthier longer lives, which covers what the government needs to do to meet its own ambition of an extra five years of healthy life for every individual by 2035 plus narrowing inequalities; and Health equity in England: the Marmot review 10 years on, an assessment of progress on health inequalities and the wider determinants of health 10 years after Fair society, healthy lives.

The ‘Marmot plus 10’ review is a tour de force: marshalling facts and evidence across five of the six themes of the original review. It calls for a national cross-government health inequalities strategy – as the Fund and others have – and many specific actions (see Greg Fell’s blog for a summary). The APPG report makes key recommendations, consistent with Marmot plus 10 in many areas, but with more on what needs to be done on health behaviours, the NHS and business. However, it’s what happens next that’s most important when it comes to having an impact. In particular two issues: how these reports reach those with the power to act; and the balance between national and local action and responsibility.