Commenting ahead of the Prime Minister’s announcement on the ‘road map’ out of lockdown, Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive of the Health Foundation, said:
'The impact of lockdown isn’t the same for everyone, neither will be the impact of unlocking and the effort to ‘build back better’. For some groups and in some areas of the country, significant barriers to experiencing good health and wellbeing remain. For example people living in poverty, the long-term unemployed and those in low paid and insecure work, people with disabilities and black and ethnic minority communities – all of whom could face widening inequalities unless these are addressed.
'Build back better starts now and should focus on those at highest risk and with the greatest needs. For example already we know that black and minority ethnic communities are being vaccinated at a slower rate than the general population yet have had greater rates of infection and mortality. We need to know more about who and why to address this urgently.
'For example workers who are unable to avoid potential exposure – usually those in lower wage jobs – must be supported financially if forced to self-isolate.
'For example those with ongoing health conditions, who have had their routine care disrupted as the NHS has struggled to cope with coronavirus admissions. They will need to be treated in order of need.
'As we see the light at the end of the tunnel, the government needs to ensure that no one is left behind particularly the most vulnerable. Longer-term there must now be a major government focus on eradicating the deep-seated health inequalities that the pandemic has exposed.'
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