The health secretary today (9 June 2008) announced that £34m of funding would support programmes to tackle health inequalities and help the most deprived communities.
In a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research, Alan Johnson (pictured) launched a Progress and Next Steps document, which identifies how the challenging Public Service Agreement target for health inequalities can be met by 2010.
Spending in the NHS in England will increase from just over £90bn in 2007–08 to almost £110bn in 2010–11. This takes account of inequalities so that sustainable action can be taken.
Mr Johnson said: “We have already set out proposals to improve access to primary care, including £250m for the most deprived PCTs to procure 112 new GP practices and to enable every PCT in the country to develop a GP-led health centre, open from 8am in the morning to 8pm at night, 7 days a week.”
The £34m additional spending for 2008-09 announced in the Progress and Next Steps document includes £19m to support local communities in disadvantaged areas working to improve life expectancy and reduce infant mortality.
This includes: rolling out the Communities for Health Programme to every area; further investment in the Health Inequalities National Support Team and the Improvement and Development Agency; and establishing a new National Support Team to address high infant mortality in disadvantaged areas.
In addition, £15m will be allocated to those with the greatest need, including children, those living and working in disadvantaged communities and those living with mental health issues.
Mr Johnson, said: “Health in the most disadvantaged parts of the country is improving rapidly, but the relative gap is growing and we will do more to reduce it. Inequalities in health go down to the root of where people are born and live, and it’s time we set that right.
“I have always said that tackling health inequalities is one of my top priorities. Now is the time to redouble our efforts to meet the challenging 2010 targets, but it’s also right to look further in the future.
“To make more progress we need to recognise and accept that health inequalities are everyone’s business – not just an issue for the NHS, but for government and society as a whole.”