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Cambridge Public Health


The policy approaches needed to tackle health inequalities

June 2023

The pattern of inequalities in health in Britain is a complicated problem. National policy has usually defaulted to a focus on individual behaviour change and the wider structural and socioeconomic factors that drive health inequality are seldom the target.

The Covid pandemic compounded population-level health inequalities in England. The pandemic also provided a mandate for bolder, more ambitious action on health inequalities. As the patterns of Covid deaths became clear, a stronger public narrative about the wider determinants of health emerged. However, an analysis of national policy documents published during the pandemic revealed that little has changed in policy thinking. The same old same old individually based ‘lifestyle’ solutions reappear.

A positive vision of a healthy and equitable society is needed. This requires a delegation of power and resource to local public health teams and local communities and attention to the whole of the social gradient. This policy brief, published by Cambridge Public Health, sets out recommendations to achieve this vision.

Health Inequalities team

For more information about the research pillar please email Professor Mike Kelly


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