Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Life and Death

Crocodile tears for health inequality

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 08 June 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2970
  1. Iona Heath, general practitioner, London
  1. iona.heath22{at}

    Why are academics and others who have participated in documenting health inequalities not campaigning vociferously for more progressive taxation in the UK?

    I begin to feel that I have witnessed one too many worthy presentations on the nature, extent, and dimensions of health inequality—locally, nationally, and globally. I have myself been guilty of such presentations in the past, but almost no one needs to be told about this any more or to be asked to look at more graphs or tables of figures. Instead, we need finally to find the collective will to do something about it. The documentation and discussion of health inequality has become an industry: a search of Google Scholar reveals 7860 academic references in 0.18 seconds. Like the National Lottery, the scholarly exploration of health inequality seems to result in the paradox of the poor directly subsidising the more affluent. The same process is in action, to a greater or lesser extent, when those struggling to cope with unemployment or inadequate housing are referred for counselling or prescribed antidepressant medication. Again, I …

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