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Health inequity in the UK: exploring health inequality and inequity

02 February 2022
9 min read
Volume 33 · Issue 2


In this article, the first of two, Vanessa Heaslip et al examine the factors that lead to certain groups having poorer health outcomes in the UK

Practice nurses are ideally placed within local communities to have a significant impact on addressing health inequities. However, to achieve this they need to understand the many factors that lead to certain groups having poorer health outcomes. Advances in longevity do not automatically match advances in health and wellbeing across all social groups. In the UK, someone living in a deprived area of England is more likely to die eight and a half years younger than someone living in a more affluent area. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted health inequities faced by ethnic minority groups in particular. This article, the first of two, will define the terminology used, explore access to health services in the UK and present the evidence driving healthcare policy.

Promoting health and wellbeing is a fundamental part of every nurse's role (Nursing Midwifery Council, 2018). Practice nurses are ideally placed within local communities to have a significant impact on addressing health inequities (Heaslip and Nadaf, 2019). However, to achieve this they need to understand the many factors that lead to certain groups having poorer health outcomes. This, the first of two articles, begins by exploring both health and access to UK health services. It then examines the equality philosophy at the core of the NHS, before distinguishing between inequality, inequity and related concepts when poorer health outcomes are examined. This article then continues to present some key governmental and professional papers driving healthcare policy. The follow-up article then explores health experiences of certain communities, such as ethnic minorities, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) and individuals experiencing homelessness, as well as the role of practice nurses in addressing their health experiences.

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