Government cuts putting the health of Londoners at risk, warns Mayor
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will today warn that enormous pressures facing the NHS and cuts to local government funding are putting the health of Londoners at risk, as he urges the government to reverse the cuts to the public health grant in the upcoming spending review.
He will make the call as he presents his final strategy to help tackle health inequalities to the London Assembly.
Sadiq’s bold strategy is designed to make the capital a healthier and fairer city, reducing the health inequalities felt across London by ensuring all Londoners can access evidence-based support, and helping those most in need. But he will warn that the success of many health programmes relies on social care and public health services having the capacity and resources to deliver them.
The Mayor is working with the NHS, councils and voluntary and community groups to support Londoners. These include programmes like the healthy workplace charter, the widely-adopted healthy schools programme and new healthy early years programme, which promote health in education and work. These programmes are central to efforts to tackle issues like poor mental health and child obesity.
His strategy, which was consulted on earlier this year, includes a raft of bold measures in response to stark disparities in the number of years that different Londoners can expect to live in ill health. For example, a boy born in Kingston upon Thames can expect to live around 13 years of their lives in poor health, while a girl born in Tower Hamlets can expect to live for 27 years – a third of their lives – in poor health.
The strategy looks to tackle the basis of these inequalities by focusing on five key areas:
*Healthy Children – helping every London child to have a healthy start in life by supporting parents and carers, early years settings and schools. This includes a new Healthy Early Years programme as more than one in three children finishing primary school are overweight or obese.
*Healthy Minds – supporting Londoners to feel comfortable talking about mental health, reducing stigma and encouraging people across the city to work together to reduce suicide. This includes ensuring every state school has access to a trained mental health first aider as people in low income households remain more likely to develop mental health problems than those in the highest income households.
*Healthy Places – working towards London having healthier streets and the best air quality of any major global city, ensuring all Londoners can access good-quality green space, tackling income inequality and fuel poverty, creating healthy workplaces, improving housing availability, quality and affordability, and addressing homelessness and rough sleeping. This includes expanding pan-London services for rough sleepers as the average life expectancy for rough sleepers is 47 years.
*Healthy Communities – making sure all Londoners have the opportunity to participate in community life, empowering people to improve their own and their communities health and wellbeing. This includes ensuring the most vulnerable Londoners are able to access social prescribing as around 20 per cent of visits to the GP are for non-medical problems.
*Healthy Living – helping Londoners to be physically active, making sure they have access to healthy food, and reducing the use of or harms caused by tobacco, illicit drugs, alcohol and gambling. This includes working to make London the most walkable city in the world as currently only three in 10 children of school age in London reach the minimum recommended activity level, and only 31 per cent of adult Londoners report having walked or cycled for 20 minutes on the previous day.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “One of the most pressing challenges our capital faces is the stark health inequalities that prevent many Londoners from fulfilling their potential. We know that far too many Londoners are still suffering ill health because of social and economic exclusion, and that’s why at the heart of my strategy is the drive to create a healthier, fairer city, where nobody’s health suffers because of who they are or where they live.
“But the enormous and unsustainable pressures currently facing the NHS and public health provision, and cuts to local government funding – including the public health grant - threaten to undermine the success of our programmes in London, putting people’s health at risk.
“The truth is that without the Government stepping up to the plate and providing the funding our city needs, tackling London’s health inequalities is going to be much harder.
“That’s why I’m calling on the Government to do the right thing and to use the upcoming spending review to invest to keep people healthy, reverse its cuts to the public health grant, and publish the Green Paper on adult social care so that we have the resources we need to improve the health of our city.”
Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy, President of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said: “Local government plays a key role in tackling health inequalities through its ability to create healthier places and support people to lead their lives to their fullest potential – the cuts to local government and the public health grant are a real threat to giving everyone a fair chance in life.”
Notes to editors
The London Health Inequality Strategy can be viewed and downloaded here: https://www.london.gov.uk/moderngov/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=179&MId=6569
The mayor is showing leadership on health and care issues in London. These include working with Alzheimer’s UK and other partners to make London a dementia friendly city by 2022, signing the health and care devolution agreement in 2017 to have a greater say in how NHS money is spent for Londoners, and commissioning the Kings Fund to review Sustainability and Transformation Plans in London
More than one in three children finishing primary school are overweight or obese - Public Health England- Public Health Outcomes Framework; indicators 2.06i and ii.
People in low income households remain more likely to develop mental health problems than those in the highest income households - London Health Commission (2014). Better health for London. London: Greater London Authority, pages 105.
Expanding pan-London services for rough sleepers as the average life expectancy for rough sleepers is 47 years - Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (2018) Statutory homelessness and prevention and relief live tables, Worksheet 775: type of temporary accommodation
Ensuring the most vulnerable Londoners are able to access social prescribing as around 20 per cent of visits to the GP are for non-medical problems - Clay, H. & Stern, R. (2015), Making time in general practice, UK: NHS England, pages 83.
Currently only three in 10 children of school age in London reach the minimum recommended activity level, and only 31 per cent of adult Londoners report having walked or cycled for 20 minutes on the previous day - ref: Travel in London report 10 p115 (2017) http://content.tfl.gov.uk/travel-in-london-report-10.pdf / Children activity levels from Health Survey for England 2015, NHS Digital, www.gov.uk, 2016