A study has found that the North of England has suffered the worst during the Coronavirus pandemic. The Northern Health Science Alliance completed the study, finding that 57.7 more people per 100,000 died with COVID-19 in the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ between March and July than anywhere else in the country. It highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on the health and economic inequalities between the North and the rest of England.
The report estimates that the cost of the increase in mortality in the North as a result of the pandemic is approximately £6.86bn – with stark reductions in mental health in the area due to the pandemic costing a whopping £5bn a year.
The study took into account such things as deprivation, ethnicity and the age structure of the population, concluding that the Northern Powerhouse region was hit far worse despite all of these factors. Figures show austerity simultaneously put the region in a more vulnerable position by reducing health and wellbeing, and cost the UK around £2bn a year in lost productivity, with over £16bn lost since 2011.
Professor of Public Health at Newcastle University, Clare Bambra said: “Health and wealth in the Northern Powerhouse lagged behind the rest of the country even before the [Covid-19] pandemic, and over the last year our significant regional inequalities have been exacerbated.”
Adding: “We need to significantly ‘level up’ the country by providing immediate additional support to local authorities and devolved administrations in the North – and by investing further in public health prevention in the Northern Powerhouse. In this way, we can reduce the inequalities that the pandemic has highlighted and ensure that our regions are better equipped for building back better.”
Hannah Davies from the Northern Health Science Alliance said: “Health inequalities between the North and the rest of England have been growing for over a decade.
“This report demonstrates the impact that has had on the productivity of the region and how it has led Covid-19 to take a devastating grip on the North.”
Dr Luke Munford, Lecturer in Health Economics at the University of Manchester, added: “The findings in this report reaffirm the results of our earlier analyses that showed the inextricable link between health and wealth.
“The Northern Powerhouse, on average, has been hit harder by COVID-19 than the rest of England in terms of both health and wealth outcomes.
“We cannot get away from their interconnectedness. The fact that these regional inequalities persist even after we account for deprivation and other known determinants means that there are other factors at play.
“These regional inequalities need to be addressed fast, or we risk letting the Northern Powerhouse fall further behind. A sensible place to start would be improving the health of people living in the Northern Powerhouse.”
Actionable advice from the report suggests prioritising clinically vulnerable and deprived communities in the North when the COVID-19 vaccine is rolled out. Another suggestion includes a £1bn fund ring-fenced to deal with health inequalities at a regional level. The full report can be found on the Northern Health Science Alliance website here.
In other COVID-related news, a strict new four-tier lockdown system could be introduced once the November lockdown is over.