Welcome to this month’s policy update from HLA:THINK
Through these regular updates we will share with you some of the key developments in different areas of health and care policy, all through publicly available resources.
If you are interested in the work of HLA:Think and would like to get involved, feel free to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Children and Young People
There has been growing concern about health inequalities among children in the UK. To gather more information, the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) commissioned The National Child Mortality Database Programme Thematic Report as part of the National Clinical Audit and Patient Outcomes Programme (NCAPOP). We include their recent report as well as a high-level summary. Inequalities is also a strong theme in the RCPCH’s State of Child Health One Year On: 2021 report. As well as long-term health, London’s Poverty Profile 2021, has highlighted the increased risk of COVID-19 mortality in children in the most deprived geographical areas. An inquiry into the economic impact of COVID-19 launched by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Youth Affairs has recently reported that young people have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic. The UK parliament also reports that the mental wellbeing of young people have been inordinately affected by the pandemic, and that a holistic approach is needed in order to aid their recovery. Both these findings have been corroborated by a recent report from The Health Foundation.
This month The Health Foundation released a report exploring unemployment and mental health, drawing on projections by the Office for Budget Responsibility. The report highlights that this disproportionately affects, amongst other groups, people from minority ethnic groups, and this news follows a government report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities which found no evidence of institutional racism in the UK. These findings were rejected by the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent and you can also find responses to this report from the Health Foundation, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of General Practitioners and a cross-party group of MPs.
Further research into the impact of health inequalities was published in a report earlier this year by The Kings Fund. Implications of COVID-19 on health and health inequalities has also been explored by The Health Foundation this month as part of their COVID-19 impact inquiry. The inquiry’s full report is due in July 2021. In the meantime, the Government has published its third quarterly report on progress to address COVID-19 health inequalities.
A further spotlight has been placed over healthcare workers’ mental health. The University of Roehampton study of mental health of NHS employees found that the number of health workers suffering mental health symptoms quadrupling during the first wave of COVID-19 in the UK. To address this the NHS has set up 40 mental health and wellbeing hubs across the country to support staff. Charities including Mind, Samaritans, Shout 85258 and Hospice UK are also working to support staff.
Monday, 17 May, 2021 was the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersex-phobia & Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), commemorating the removal of homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases. ILGA-Europe, who produce an annual map summarising nations’ legal and policy approaches to LGBTQ+ rights, report that progressive improvements have stalled. ILGA’s latest global legislation overview update, produced in December 2020, can be found here, and includes a summary of which nations still have criminal laws targeting LGBTQ+ individuals, despite the 2011 UN resolution. The King’s Fund have also released a library of resources on a number of topics related to LBGTQ+ health.
Digital health technologies have long promised to improve care while saving costs and time. However, a recent report by the University of Manchester argues they also threaten to exacerbate existing health inequalities if we fail to support digital inclusion in health and social care. The NHS Widening Digital Participation programme previously provided digital literacy training to some of the almost 13 million digitally excluded Britons, and the NHS is committed to continue efforts to digitally empower patients in its long term plan.
Produced by Soham Bandyopadhyay, Rok Hrzic, and Arrash Yassaee