‘A Legacy of Missed Opportunities' says MP

February 15, 2011 11:06 AM

Recent statistics have shown that the level of GP provision in Sutton remains below the national average, despite the previous government announcing in 1997 that reducing health inequality would be a key priority.

Local MP Tom Brake said that these figures demonstrated that "the real legacy of the NHS in the past decade has been one of missed opportunities.

"Tackling health inequality only became a real priority for the NHS in 2006, and primary care trusts were not expected to report back on them until 2007. For this reason, NHS funding per person in Sutton still lags behind the national average.

A Public Accounts Committee report revealed that the gap in life expectancy between the poorest areas and the average across England has grown significantly over the past thirteen years. In some of the poorest areas of the country, people die almost two years before those in the rest of the country. In comparison with the richest areas, the gap can rise to up to seven years.

The UK has some of the worst levels of obesity in the world, and it is estimated that 1.6 million people are alcohol dependant. Over half a million people have been diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections in the past year, of which ten percent will be re-infected within a year.

Under recent plans proposed by the Government in the Health and Social Care Bill, responsibility for public health will be returned to local government. By assuming responsibility for commissioning the majority of public health services, Tom Brake believes that local authorities will be able to work towards improving the health services which they believe are most important for their area.

Tom Brake said:

"Councils are in the best position to bring together all the local agencies which can work towards tackling public health challenges. These proposals from the Coalition to return the responsibility for public health to local authorities will guarantee that tackling health inequalities and improving people's health is given a local focus.

"Because of these reforms, local authorities won't be sidelined on health issues, but instead will be able to shape the direction of services in their own community to fit local circumstances."

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