Letters

Government did not suppress health inequalities report

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.331.7518.698-a (Published 22 September 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:698
  1. Caroline Flint, minister for public health (brenda.irons-roberts{at}dh.gsi.gov.uk)
  1. Department of Health, Richmond House, London SW1A 2NS

    EDITOR—Shaw et al repeat claims that the government suppressed its health inequalities report.1 This is nonsense.

    Tackling Health Inequalities, actively promoted and announced via a press release issued to 1300 journalists and media outlets, received widespread coverage, including stories in the nationaland regional press.

    Professor Sir Michael Marmot, the report author, was extensively interviewed.

    We as the government can, therefore, hardly be accused of a hushed up release.

    We are determined to reduce health inequalities. The report showed that we are moving in the right direction and highlighted the further work that needs to be done.

    However, the report's data dated back to 2003. Last November we published the Choosing Health White Paper aimed at improving health and tackling health inequalities. Health trainers are one of many initiatives in Choosing Health which will help narrow the inequalities gap by helping people to make healthier choices in their daily lives. Infant mortality, a key indicator of health inequalities, has fallen in the routine and manual group, as well as the total population. Government initiatives including Sure Start, better neonatal services, stop smoking services, and breastfeeding campaigns are all having an impact.

    Progress is slower in more disadvantaged areas, which is why spearhead primary care trusts arepiloting many of the key Choosing Health recommendations, including health trainers, in those areas.

    Health inequalities are and will continue to be a government priority.

    Footnotes

    • Competing interests None declared.

    References

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