The Royal College of General Practitioners and 20 other leading health organisations have written to the Prime Minister urging him to accept the recommendations from the Health Equity in England: the Marmot review 10 years on report.

The report, which follows on from Professor Sir Michael Marmot’s review on health inequalities ten years ago, highlights that for the first time in more than 100 years, life expectancy has flattened since 2010.

In contrast, findings show that for the poorest 10% of women across the country, life expectancy has declined. The report also reveals that time spent in poor health for both men and women in the most deprived areas of England, has increased.

The ten-year review focuses on the fact that health is affected by the environment in which we live and the more deprived the area, the shorter the life expectancy. It highlights evidence showing that over the last decade, efforts from local authorities to reduce inequalities have significantly grown but the government must do more to support this.

The report highlights that:

  • people can expect to spend more of their lives in poor health
  • improvements to life expectancy have stalled, and declined for the poorest 10% of women
  • the health gap has grown between wealthy and deprived areas 
  • place matters – living in a deprived area of the North East is worse for your health than living in a similarly deprived area in London, to the extent that life expectancy is nearly five years less.

National minimum wage needs to be increased

The report’s recommendations include developing a national strategy for action on the social determinants of health, with the aim of reducing inequalities in health. It also calls for early intervention to prevent health inequalities which work towards lowering child poverty to 10% (same as lowest in Europe), creating fair employment and good work for all, and ensuring that the National Living Wage and welfare benefits are sufficient for everyone to afford a healthy lifestyle.

In the letter sent to the prime Minister they call on him and his government to accept all of the report’s recommendations and to go even further with policies to address health inequalities across the country.

In the letter, the signatories say: "Your government should urgently consider increasing both the ‘national minimum wage’ and the ‘national living wage’ to be at least in line with the real living wage, as calculated by the Resolution Foundation. We know this would be a significant decision, but if not now then when?

"We hope you recognise the urgency and earnestness of this request. Our professions are keeping the NHS going as demand rises, but what we really want is for that demand to fall. The UK has the resources to make that happen, and quickly. There is simply no need, nor justification, for delay."