Health Inequalities and Deprivation

"People living with cancer in the most socio-economically deprived areas:
• are 20% more likely to have their cancer diagnosed at a late stage.
• receive only half the number of referrals to early stage clinical
trials.
• face almost 25% more emergency admissions in the last year of life compared to people in the least deprived areas." 

Health Inequalities: Time to Talk (April 2019) Macmillan 


What are health Inequalities ? 

Health inequalities are unfair and avoidable differences in health across the population, and between different groups within society, and arise from unequal distribution of economic , social and environmental conditions.

These conditions influence our opportunities for good health, and how we think, feel and act, and this shapes our mental health, physical health and wellbeing.

Examples of the characteristics of people/communities in each of these groups are below (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Socio-economic status and deprivation: e.g. unemployed, low income, people living in deprived areas (e.g. poor housing, poor education and/or unemployment).
  • Protected characteristics: e.g. age, sex, race, sexual orientation, disability
  • Vulnerable groups of society, or ‘inclusion health’ groups: e.g. vulnerable. migrants; Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities; rough sleepers and homeless people; and sex workers
  • Geography: e.g. urban, rural.

The covid 19 pandemic has put a spotlight on pre existing inequalities within treatments and outcomes related to cancer which can determine peoples chances of survival when at their most extreme.


Working to reduce health inequalities 

The presence of health inequalities in terms of patient experience and access to cancer services has been acknowledged by the cancer alliance. The alliance is working with different groups of people with known recognised "protected characteristics" such as :

Ethnic minority communities

Non-English speakers

Older people

Young people

Disabled people

Mental health service users

As a response the Alliance has set up a forum for local healthcare providers, commissioners and patient organisations such as Healthwatch, to facilitate the sharing of expertise and learning and to carry out collaborative projects to "level up" some of the health inequalities that exist. A main priority of this group is to reduce digital poverty/ digital exclusion  highlighted from the Alliance literature review.