CPP's head of research, Ben Franklin, responds to the establishment of the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities

1 October 2021

Today’s launch of the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) is a welcome step toward improving the nation’s health following the pandemic. Recent CPP research produced with the NRG proved that voters living in the former 'Red Wall’ are living significantly shorter lives than the rest of the country, which must be addressed as both a moral and political imperative, and we hope to see the OHID take effect here.

Population health was, however, stagnating long before COVID-19 as countless governments have failed to address the underlying economic and social drivers of poor health. Prior to the pandemic, life expectancy was around 10 years lower for those living in the most deprived areas than those living in the least deprived. Covid has merely shone a light on what we already knew – poverty kills.

A whole government approach – both central and local – is needed with coordinated economic, social, and healthcare policies, funded over many years, to address these rampant health inequalities. The OHID cannot do this alone and must only be the beginning of the UK’s battle to improve population health.