NHS Sheffield report linking ill health to poverty (Poor Health link to Deprivation The Star 13 September 2010) is a sad reflection on the city. It highlights the growing inequality and shows that those living in poorer areas have worse health.
David Blunkett is right to attack the Council’s programme of cuts on teenage pregnancy and drug prevention services. Cutting these services is a backward step and could do long term harm to the health of the city. However he was a part of a Labour Government that increased the gap between the income of richest and the poorest. They also continued the process of privatising the NHS and extending charges for essential services like prescriptions, dentistry and eye care.
The Green Party believes research that says that if the UK were more equal, we’d be better off as a population. In more equal societies both the rich and the poor benefit from lower mental illness, less obesity and few teenage pregnancies. Countries that are fairer also see other social benefits like a lower murder rate, less people in prison, improved education results and people trusting each other. We would all be a lot happier.
The best way to improve the health of the entire nation is to reduce the gap between the richest and poorest. This can be done through redistributing the tax burden so the rich pay more. Alternatively to create a culture, like in Japan, where the income difference between the highest paid and the lowest is much smaller.