News release: Healthcare inequalities rife in Surrey
Local company highlights the unexpected impact of hidden poverty in Surrey and its consequences for healthcare provision.
Surrey is perceived as affluent, but pockets of poverty are widespread throughout the county, leading to varying healthcare outcomes in some communities.
Despite parts of the county including Elmbridge, Mole Valley and Waverley among the most wealthy areas in the UK, the wealth gap in Surrey is extreme, hiding in many cases individuals and families who struggle to gain access to healthcare services.
Trevor Dale, managing director of Atrainability, said:
The reality of living in Surrey is that those who have a real need can easily be overlooked as they are masked by more affluent areas right next to them.
Earlier research from the Community Foundation for Surrey titled, ‘Surrey Uncovered’ found the county faces issues such as child poverty, unemployment, isolated older people and a high proportion of low income and lone-parent households.
Within the research, the Foundation found that shockingly, in a number of areas across Surrey, more than 30% of children and young people live in poverty, some areas being significantly worse than the national average. A dozen wards have a higher rate of mental health issues amongst children and young people than the national average.
Another healthcare-related issue linked to this hidden poverty is childhood obesity, with one in four under 15s either overweight or obese.
Speaking on the Atrainability Radio podcast, Dr Andy Knox, an executive GP for Lancashire North Clinical Commissioning Group Surrey said:
There is some profound poverty in Surrey. And I think that’s partly because there is so much privatisation in Surrey around education, healthcare and other services. This has left people who really need public services with very little left.
Trevor Dale is keen to highlight that these problems are on our doorstep and within our local communities. However, these are issues that, with support and help, can be solved.
According to an NHS report published in December 2018 (NHS Equality and Health Inequalities Pack), people living in deprived areas on average have poorer health and shorter lives. Research shows that socioeconomic inequalities result in increased morbidity and decreased life expectancy.
The UCL Institute of Health Equity estimates 1.3 to 2.5 million potential years of life lost annually due to inequalities.
The Equality and Health Inequalities Pack shows, for NHS Guildford and Waverley, 87% of patients were likely to recommend services to friends and family.
Clinical quality has improved, along with lower onward referral rates and shorter waiting times. Consultants audited outpatient services by looking at the service received by ten patients per speciality. All services were rated ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.
It’s evident that large wealth gaps have a negative impact on healthcare outcomes. In the UK, access to essential services is universal. However, the level to which a person uses these opportunities depends on their self-reliance and resilience.
Surrey is perceived as very successful. Therefore it’s necessary to look more closely to statistics, to tell the story of people and places, and to make sure that they don’t remain hidden in the figures.