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Nanny state responsible for health inequality – professor

1 October 2010

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The so-called nanny state in the UK is blocking solutions to health inequality, an academic has claimed.

John Ashton, a professor who chairs the UK Public Health Association, said ending an alleged state paternalism and extending “local control” will help to improve people’s health.

Professor Ashton will make the claims in a speech to the Public Health: Promoting Health & The Challenges Ahead conference in London on Thursday.

The health of people on low incomes is worse than that of the rich.

Professor Ashton will say: “Despite massive increases in public spending over the last decade, health inequalities are stubbornly resistant to change. The state-sponsored paternalistic urge to try to fix people regardless of whether they want to be fixed or not can be enormously wasteful and counter-productive.

“Despite the enormous strides made since the birth of the welfare state, the backcloth of health inequality still remains in many parts of Britain. We must not be afraid to reframe the Beveridge Report’s five giants of want, disease, squalor, ignorance and idleness for the 21st century.”

Copyright © Press Association 2010

UK Public Health Association

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“Yes, you can take a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. PCTs please note we can offer services till we are blue in the face but we cannot force women to have a smear or parents to get their kids vaccinated” – Name and address withheld