Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Massive Health inequalities demand ‘total’ response from Executive

29 October, 2007

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson, Carál Ní Chuilín MLA has said that the Health Inequalities statistics published today by the Department of Health requires a response from the Executive collectively and from each and every minister.

Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety published its second update bulletin on the Health and Social Care Inequalities Monitoring System today. It highlights the differences in morbidity, mortality, utilisation and access to health and social services.

Ms Ní Chuilín said:

"The huge health inequalities that exist across our society mean that people who are worse off die earlier; are 71% more likely to have lung cancer and twice as likely to self-harm.

"If we look at other statistics on housing, education, economic inactivity rates and unemployment they highlight the reality about the deep inequalities in our society.

"We will not tackle this problem unless there is the commitment collectively from the Executive and individually from each minister to tackle and eradicate inequality, disadvantage and poverty.

"While there have been some slight improvements in overall health there continues to be massive health inequalities that must be systematically targeted.

"We need to build on the legacy of Bairbre de Brún's Investing for Health strategy to ensure that every department and government agency is challenged to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people in our society.

"There are also structural inequalities in access to health services. It should not be acceptable that the access times for people in rural areas were 40% worse than the average; that Catholics were overrepresented in the areas with worst access times and that the proportion of Catholics in the areas with the worst health outcomes was at least five percentage points higher than the overall proportion for almost all indicators.

"We need to break down these figures and work how access to health and social services can be improved, how measures to tackle economic inactivity rates and unemployment can be targeted to those areas most in need and how we can ensure that the education our young people get means that they have an equal start in life." ENDS

Note to Editors

  • Life expectancy in deprived areas compared with the north overall was 3.8 years lower for males and 2.6 years lower for females.
  • Lung cancer incidence rates for all persons are 71% higher in deprived areas.
  • The teenage birth rate in deprived areas is 80% higher.
  • The admission rate to hospital for self-harm in deprived areas is twice that in the North generally.
  • For all health and social care facilities (except of hospitals providing learning disability inpatient services) the average access time from rural areas was more than 40% worse than generally.
  • The proportion of Catholics in the areas with the worst health outcomes was at least five percentage points higher than the overall proportion for all indicators (with the exception of waiting times and the standardised death rate due to respiratory diseases).
  • For all facilities under consideration, (with the exception of GPs, pharmacies and hospitals providing learning disability outpatient services) Catholics were overrepresented in the areas with worst access times.
  • The health inequality gap for indicators such as potential years of life lost, infant mortality rates, teenage births, standardised admission rates to hospitals, cancer incidence and suicide rates between the 20% most deprived areas have all reduced.
  • Despite improving health outcomes across all areas there is no evidence of a narrowing of the inequality gap for life expectancy, circulatory and respiratory standardised death rates, and the proportion of people suffering from a mood or anxiety disorder.

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