A new body to tackle health disparities across the country will launch on 1 October 2021

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A new body, the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), will officially launch on 1 October with the aim of tackling health inequalities across the country.

Health disparities across the UK are stark—for example, a woman living in Blackpool will on average live 16 fewer years in good health than a woman born in Brent, London. Someone’s ethnicity can also have a significant bearing on their health and health outcomes.

Ill health among working-age people alone costs the economy around £100 billion a year, and it’s estimated that 40% of healthcare provision in the UK is being used to manage potentially preventable conditions.

The OHID, led by the newly-appointed Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy, aims to drive the prevention agenda across government to improve public health and reduce health disparities, many of which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new body will tackle the top preventable risk factors for poor health, including obesity caused by unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity, smoking, and alcohol consumption. 

It will work across the health system to drive forward action on health disparities, including improving access to health services across the country, and coordinate with government departments to address the wider drivers of good health, from employment to housing, education, and the environment.

Commenting on the new body, Dr de Gruchy said: ‘The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities will play a critical role in reducing health inequalities across the country and build on the important work undertaken over recent years.

‘COVID has exposed and exacerbated the health inequalities across the UK. It is critical we address these head-on and support people to live healthier lives. I look forward to getting started.’