Last week the Marmot strategic review on health inequalities Fair Society, Healthy Lives was published. This highlighted the gross inequalities that still exist in our society and how life expectancies can vary dramatically because of the unfairness in access to healthcare, education and employment. This report advises readdressing the steep social and health gradients that are endemic in the UK.
It is estimated that inequality in ill-health results in productivity losses of £31-33 billion annually, lost taxes and higher welfare payments between £20-32 billion per year and a cost to the NHS of £5.5.billion a year. However fighting this problem is more than just economics and will benefit society more than any cost-benefit analysis is capable of showing.
2020health’s project on healthier work outcomes intimately relates to how work has a linear relationship to health. Our project embodies one of the Marmot Review’s 6 policy maxims “creating fair employment and good work”. The onus cannot be on government alone, though great cross-departmental co-ordination is needed, how health professionals and local employers input will be as valuable. We are working on identifying how public health policy and local initiatives can harmonise to help individual’s outcomes and ultimately rebalance the scales.
Our Work Outcomes report is due for publication next month, March 2010.