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Thérèse Coffey scraps promised paper on health inequality

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Thérèse Coffey is ditching the government’s long-promised white paper on health inequalities, despite the 19-year gap in life expectancy between rich and poor, the Guardian has been told.

The health secretary has decided to not publish a document that was due to set out plans to address the stark inequalities in health that the Covid-19 pandemic exposed.

It was meant to appear by last spring and be a key part of then prime minister Boris Johnson’s declared mission to level up Britain. It was due to set out “bold action” to narrow the wide inequalities in health outcomes that exist between deprived and well-off areas, between white and BAME populations, and between the north and south of England.

"It’s dead. It’s never going to appear. The white paper is being canned,” said one source familiar with the situation.

Health experts reacted with dismay to reports of the paper being scrapped. “We expect the government to keep its commitment to addressing health disparities in an upcoming white paper and would have grave concerns if this long-planned paper were delayed or shelved,” said Dr Habib Naqvi, director of the NHS Race and Health Observatory.

“We need to see priorities and an action plan set out to address a number of serious and longstanding health inequalities. This should be a priority, particularly given the cost of living crisis and the impact this is having on diverse communities.”

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Source: The Guardian, 29 September 2022

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