COVID-19 and Health Inequality

SAGE has published a report examining the inequalities of COVID-19 and attempting to contextualise them within the wider issue of health inequalities.

COVID-19 and Health Inequality says the most deprived neighbourhoods in England have a COVID-19 mortality rate more than twice that of the most affluent.

The report is split into five main sections:

  • An overview of socio-economic health inequalities in the UK
  • A summary of epidemiological evidence of socio-economic inequalities in relation to COVID-19 and examination of the pathways linking COVID-19 and inequality
  • An examination of inequalities and the impact of the emergency policy response to COVID-19
  • An examination of the emerging evidence of an unequal COVID-19 economic crisis and the impact it could have on future health inequalities
  • Key recommendations on how local government and devolved authorities, the NHS and national government can act to reduce these inequalities.

The recommendations include robust evaluation of new digital services to ensure they are effective and impact assessments to ensure their accessibility and availability to patients from all communities.

Click on the link below to read the report in full.

Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE)

Are the needs of people with multiple long-term conditions being met?

This article outlines findings from recently published analysis of 2018 GP Patient Survey data on whether people with multiple long-term conditions feel their needs are being met.

It says the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the uneven burden placed on patients by long-term health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, asthma or mental ill-health.

However, even prior to the pandemic, it was clear that people with two or more long-term conditions were the highest users of health care.

The new analysis shows, overall, patients’ needs were met at their last GP appointment.

However, less than half the patients with at least one long-term condition felt they got the support they need from local services – and this fell to under a third for people with five or more conditions.

Nuffield Trust

COVID-19 – research studies on children and young people's views

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPH) is compiling studies from across the UK on children and young people's experiences of, and insights into, COVID-19.

Its list, which includes both completed and ongoing studies, has recently been updated with new resources.

The RCPH says these valuable, real-life experiences need to be viewed alongside scientific and medical data sets to effectively plan for services over the coming months. 


CQC coronavirus inpatient experience survey

The results of the CQC’s coronavirus inpatient survey show most people were positive about the care and treatment they received in hospital during the first wave of the pandemic.

But those diagnosed with coronavirus had poorer experiences – particularly in relation to discharge from hospital and knowing what would happen next with their care.

Around a third of people with coronavirus (32%) did not know what would happen next with their care when leaving hospital. This compared with 18% of people without coronavirus.

The results also reveal some concerns that certain groups found some aspects of their hospital stay more difficult, including people with dementia or Alzheimer’s and those with a mental health condition.

Certain groups of patients found communicating with staff who were wearing PPE especially difficult. 

Those aged 85 and over, patients with autism, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, patients who were deaf or hard of hearing and patients with learning disabilities were less likely to always understand what they were being told.


Increasing adherence to COVID-19 preventative behaviours among young people

The Independent Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (SPI-B) has published a paper on increasing adherence to COVID-19 preventative behaviours among young people.

It makes a series of recommendations on communications and messaging including:

  • All communications should be appropriate and accessible for young people
  • Where possible, communications should be delivered by trusted, non-governmental sources, for example, charities and sports clubs
  • Targeted communication interventions may be needed to segment audiences by characteristic
  • Mass and social media communications should use young people's voices and be co-produced and piloted with young people
  • Interventions should provide clear information to educate and enable positive behaviours


Action not words needed to reverse mental health inequalities

Stark inequalities in mental health can be reversed with concerted action from national and local government, public services and civil society, according to a report by Centre for Mental Health.

Mental Health for All? is the final report of the two-year Commission for Equality in Mental Health.

It says inequalities which have for too long been accepted or ignored can be reduced through concerted action nationally and locally.

The report highlights several organisations and projects which are providing information and support to tackle mental health.

Centre for Mental Health

The impact of public involvement in health research

This article discusses what we are measuring when we talk about public involvement in health research and why we measure it.

It says measures of public involvement which are easy to count, such as numbers of people involved, tend to be favoured. 

However, this tells us little about how patients and the public have changed the course of research studies. 

The authors call for a critical research agenda for public involvement – one acknowledging:

  • Different rationales for public involvement, and how the desire to measure effects might be shaping these rationales
  • That there might be negative impacts of public involvement as these are largely unreported
  • The impact of power and in particular how power relations play out in research settings


Accessing mental health services

A two-month campaign aims to increase awareness of NHS talking therapies services (IAPT).

Help Us Help You – Mental Health will encourage adults with mental health issues to seek help and consider accessing talking therapy via their GP or through self-referral. 

It will have a specific focus on Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups and people struggling with unemployment.

Campaign resources can be accessed and downloaded for free by clicking on the link below.

Public Health England

Study: Developing a co-produced patient safety guide for primary care

A new study aims to co‐design a patient safety guide for primary care.

It hopes to support patients and carers to address key patient safety questions and identify key points where they can make their care safer. 

The objectives were to identify when and how patients and carers can be involved in primary care patient safety and identify the relevant information to include in the guide.

Authors found communication, understanding roles and responsibilities, and developing partnerships between patients and health‐care providers were considered essential for actively involving patients in patient safety.

It is hoped the guide produced as a result of the study will support patients and carers to partner with health‐care professionals to improve patient safety.

Wiley Online Library

Study: Associations between belief in COVID-19 misinformation with preventative behaviours

A new study examines the associations between COVID-19 misinformation exposure and belief with COVID-19 knowledge and preventive behaviours.

Almost 68% of respondents reported exposure to at least one COVID-19 misinformation item. 

Misinformation exposure was associated with younger age, higher education levels and lower income. 

Sources of information associated with misinformation exposure were social networking services and instant messaging. Misinformation exposure was also associated with psychological distress and misinformation belief. 

Misinformation belief was associated with poorer COVID-19 knowledge and fewer preventative behaviours.

The authors concluded, given the potential of misinformation to undermine global efforts in COVID-19 disease control, up-to-date public health strategies are required to counter the proliferation of misinformation.


Translated patient guides on video consultations

NHS England has published a quick guide for patients on what they need for a video consultation and how to prepare for their appointment.

The guide has been translated into Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Italian, Polish, Punjabi, Romanian and Urdu.

NHS England

Guidance for young people: My Operation and Coronavirus

The Centre for Perioperative Care has developed an FAQ for young people who will be attending hospital as services restart during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The leaflet takes patients through the steps they may experience before, during and after hospital.

This includes what hospitals are doing to protect patients, how they can protect themselves, what to do before and after and why they cannot bring multiple family members or carers to the hospital with them.


Supporting patients with hearing loss

A new toolkit aims to support GPs to deliver care for patients with hearing loss and aims to encourage deaf patients to access primary care.

The educational kit, developed by Royal College of GPs (RCGP) in collaboration with RNID and NHS England and Improvement, aims to support GPs to consult effectively with deaf patients.

It offers tips on how to communicate during face-to-face and remote appointments.

It also offers guidelines on how to recognise early symptoms of hearing loss and how to refer patients for a hearing assessment. 


Helping families get online

The Scottish Government has announced new measures to help tackle digital inequality.

Connecting Scotland is distributing more than 23,000 iPads and Chromebooks among digitally excluded low-income families and care leavers, as part of the latest phase of the £43 million programme.

As well as a new device, recipients also receive mobile data and help to use the internet confidently and safely for up to two years.

Scottish Government

Event: Population health global summit

The King's Fund, supported by NHS England and Improvement, is hosting a free one-day event on population health.

The event will include national and international examples of best practice with a focus on reducing health inequalities. It will explore how:

  • Local organisations working in partnership can help deliver population health locally
  • Data and insight can be used to analyse and develop population health strategies and new integrated care models
  • Addressing the wider determinants of health as part of a population health approach can help reduce health inequalities

The event takes place from 10am to 4pm on Wednesday 2 December.

The King's Fund