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Sat, 30 May 2020

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Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth blasts 'national disgrace' of health inequality

Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth blasts 'national disgrace' of health inequality
2 min read

Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth has branded rising health inequalities as a "national disgrace".

Speaking on the tenth anniversary of the Marmot review into the issue he called for extra funding in the upcoming Budget to address imbalances across England.

It comes after a fresh analysis by Labour found health outcomes for those living in the party's heartlands were significantly worse than those living in more affluent areas.

According to their review, men in so-called 'red wall' seats live 5.9 fewer healthy years than those living in constituencies represented by Cabinet ministers Rishi Sunak, Matt Hancock and Priti Patel, while for women the figure rises to 7.7 fewer healthy years.

The analysis also found deaths from cardiovascular disease were above average in each of the 20 sample seats, while cancer deaths were higher in 95% of them.

It comes ahead of the anniversary of the landmark Marmot review, which found those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds were much more likely to face poor health and premature death.

In a speech Mr Ashworth is expected to say: "Inequality in health is the worst inequality of all.

"Surely there can be no greater social injustice than people dying sooner because of poverty and austerity?"

He will add: "This is a national disgrace and requires urgent government action. Boris Johnson will fail to 'level up' the economy if he refuses to abandon austerity and tackle these health inequalities."

The shadow frontbencher will also use the speech to urge his party to treat tackling child poverty as a "moral crusade" under the next leader.

"We know a child growing up in poverty is more likely to suffer ill health and in turn more likely to develop health problems in later life," he will say.

"Yet thanks to Tory cuts, child poverty is now projected to rise to the highest level since records began - higher child poverty than even the Thatcher years.

"Every child matters and deserves the best possible start but instead this government condemns future generations to become ill quicker in life and dying sooner. Challenging these health inequalities and escalating child povery must be a moral crusade for Labour."

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