We are committed to promoting equality of access and equity in the provision of healthcare....and to improving the . The cross cutting report “Tackling Health Inequalities: A programme for Action (July 2003) has already identified the actions that are needed to improve the health of the poorest communities, and a comprehensive programme for public health is outlined in Derek Wanless’s (sic) report “Securing Good Health for the Whole Population (February 2004).
And so we continue.......:
Inequalities in healthcare mirror wider injustices in society, but we could and should be doing much more as a Department to tackle them.
We must ensure that tackling health inequalities is fully integrated into NHS commissioning and the operational framework. R.H. Tawney wrote that promoting equality is not about some “romantic illusion that men are equal in character and intelligence” : rather, it is about eliminating the inequalities which have their source “not in individual differences, but in organisation.”
First, we must improve access to decent healthcare for people from deprived communities.
But now, as we move on to the next phase of our transformation of public services, we have to ensure that these improvements reach everyone, using our unprecedented investment combined with increased efficiency, to promote fairness, equality and social justice; closing the gap between rich and poor.
Can you tell the difference?
Well the first quote is from the consultation document setting up the Healthcare Commission in 2004. The second quote is from Alan Johnson’s “first major speech” today at Toynbee Hall.
Young Alan also said:
Of course, there is always a risk that, as fruits fall from the tree, it is the tallest people who catch them first and, left unchecked, this can create a dangerous political paradox: where national progress can become socially regressive, as inequality advances. It is the responsibility of progressive politicians to ensure that the benefits of change are spread evenly across society.
Political paradoxes more likely! Here’s just two or three:
Last year the government insisted on a re-structuring of PCTs resulting in millions of pounds in redundancies with the senior managers getting the “fruits that fall from the tree” and now the poorest of the patients suffer most from an impossibility of access to the remote centralised PCT here in Norfolk.
In 2003, the government’s “progressive politicians” expensively established new bodies (including another QUANGO) called Patient and Public Involvement in Health. Now they are pushing legislation through Parliament which will abolish those expensively set up bodies to establish yet more expensively set up bodies in their place (Does this remind you of Alice Through the Looking Glass?) and wasting yet more millions which could have contributed to reducing inequalities.
And the fine very expensively established 2004 organisation from which the first quote in this PPlog comes is now going to be expensively done away with and replaced by another expensively set up organisation, Ofcare:
Ofcare will replace the Healthcare Commission, the Commission for Social Care Inspection, and the Mental Health Act Commission. (Health Service Journal 11.09.07.)
Ms Walker (Chief Executive, Healthcare Commission) said there was a risk that Ofcare's remit would not cover measuring progress on health inequalities. (Health Service Journal 11.09.07.)