New research has established that Greater Manchester’s Covid death rate is 25 percent higher than the rest of England. In fact the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been so bad that life expectancy in north-west England has declined more than the average for England.
The report, originally commissioned in 2019 by the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, the devolved health body responsible for health across the city region, concludes that existing health inequalities in Greater Manchester have been exposed and amplified by the pandemic.
The Partnership originally asked Prof Sir Michael Marmot, a leading expert on health inequalities, to look at how it could improve the health of Manchester’s population, but with the pandemic came a change in emphasis, with the reports’s conclusions looking more at the damage the coronavirus has taken across the area. It concludes that there are underlying social issues in play, and calls for more resources to be directed towards education, employment and housing.
Coronavirus infection rates have gone up in all ten boroughs of Greater Manchester, the latest data shows. Manchester continues to have the highest coronavirus infection rate in the region, with a rate of 434.3 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending June 24th, according to the latest data from Public Health England.
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The Marmot report found that the city had a Covid-19 death rate 25 percent higher than England as a whole in the 13 months up to March 2021, although this was behind that of the West Midlands and Greater London. The report calculated that the high death rate contributed to an overall decline in life expectancy in the wider North West area that was larger than the average in England; life expectancy in the North West fell in 2020 by 1.6 years for men and 1.2 years for women, compared with an average in England of 1.3 years for men and 0.9 years for women.
In the report, Sir Michael Marmot concludes that the pandemic exposed and amplified existing issues in the city. “Greater Manchester has high levels of avoidable health inequalities as a result of longstanding economic and social inequities, and as across the country, ethnic disadvantage,” he said.
“The city region has also experienced high rates of mortality from Covid-19 and particularly damaging long-term economic and social effects during the pandemic as a result of prolonged lockdowns.
“The kind of recommendations that I make are not just about health care or not just about public health.
“They’re about housing and transport and community development and jobs and schools. It cuts across the board. And we need to spend to improve the health and wellbeing for future generations as well as for now.”
Among the other proposals in the report are a call for extra resources for early years care, more money spent on mental health services for young people, and addressing of issues relating to the environment and health in workplaces.
Professor Sir Michael Marmot said that if the government is serious about levelling up health inequities, equity of health and wellbeing must be at the heart of government and business strategy rather than narrow economic goals.
Professor Marmot said: “The City Region has also experienced high rates of mortality from COVID-19 and particularly damaging long-term economic and social effects during the pandemic as a result of prolonged lockdowns. These multiple negative impacts will damage health and widen health inequalities unless action to build back fairer is introduced across the City Region.
“The Institute of Health Equity has previously called for a national inequalities strategy to provide the backbone of the government’s levelling up agenda. ‘Build Back Fairer in Greater Manchester: Health Equity and Dignified Lives’ now lays out a clear framework to reduce health inequities for future generations. The Region’s devolved powers, leadership and strong existing programmes make it well positioned to take a lead, provided central government commits to long-term additional investment.”
Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, welcomed the report, saying: “The pandemic has brutally exposed just how unequal England actually is. People have lived parallel lives over the last 18 months.
“People in low-paid, insecure work have often had little choice in their level of exposure to Covid – and the risk of getting it and bringing it back home to those they live with.
“Levelling up needs to start in the communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.
“To improve the nation’s physical and mental health, we need to start by giving all fellow citizens a good job and good home.”
The publication of the report came as figures showed that 44,719,762 people had received a first dose of coronavirus vaccination, and 32,872,450 had received a second dose, representing 84.9 percent of adult population and
62.4 percent. The number of tests done was up 5.8 percent to 6,886,435.
However, positive tests for coronavirus were up 69% to 135,074, hospital admissions up 6.4 percent to 1,677. and deaths within 28 days of testing positive up 12 percent to 113.
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