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UK Policy Update August 2021

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

Health Inequalities

This month analysis of Office for National Statistics data published in the BMJ found white people in the UK have lower life expectancies than other ethnicities in the UK. A Government review found that COVID-19 reversed this differential in some ethnic groups. Further analysis of life expectancy data is available from The King’s Fund, the Office for National Statistics and the Health Foundation.

Further Office for National Statistics data analysed by The Health Foundation showed people in deprived areas are almost 4 times more likely to die with COVID than the affluent.

A Health and Social Care Select Committee report this month highlighted ethnic and socioeconomic inequalities in perinatal outcomes. The report’s findings were welcomed by Sands, NHS Providers and the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and cautiously welcomed by Action Against Medical Accidents.

NHS Workforce

This month a 3% pay rise was offered to many NHS staff by the Government. The Shadow Health Secretary criticised this move and UNISON have started consultation on industrial action over the proposal. It was further criticised by the Royal College of Nursing, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and the BMA. We also link to statements from the Health Foundation and The King’s Fund.

Ahead of this pay proposal, Unfair to Care found a £7000 pay gap for many social workers. Health Education England was commissioned by Government this month to lead a review into the health and social care workforce. This was followed by new workforce diversity targets at NHS Digital.

Health and Social Care Reform

A new Health and Care Bill was introduced to Parliament this month. Several organisations raised concerns around privatisation of the NHS and failure to tackle funding or workforce shortages. These include the BMA, Nuffield Trust, NHS Providers and the NHS Confederation. In response to the bill a joint letter from organisations including the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Health Foundation warned of workforce shortages.


Self-isolation rates prompted the Government to exempt healthcare staff, a move receiving mixed responses from the BMA, Nursing and Midwifery Council, Royal College of Nursing and NHS Confederation.

There were mixed reactions to this month’s easing of pandemic restrictions. We link to statements from Government, Labour Party, NHS Providers, Royal College of GPs, Royal College of Nursing and Faculty of Public Health. Easing of restrictions came as NHS Providers, the NHS Confederation and Nuffield Trust warned of growing pressure on the NHS. Current Government data on COVID-19 can be found here.

Produced by Jamie Carruthers



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