Intended for healthcare professionals


Great leap backwards

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 02 December 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g7350
  1. David Taylor-Robinson, MRC population health scientist,
  2. Margaret Whitehead, Duncan professor of public health,
  3. Ben Barr, senior clinical lecturer in applied public health
  1. 1Department of Public Health and Policy, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GB, UK
  1. Correspondence to: David Taylor-Robinson dctr{at}

The UK’s austerity programme has disproportionately affected children and people with disabilities

A society can be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. The UN conventions on human rights give children and people with disabilities special protection1 2; children are often not in a position to speak out for themselves and the rights of people with disabilities are often overlooked because they are marginalised and face discrimination. Supporting the life chances of vulnerable groups is important for reducing health inequalities. Disadvantage in childhood influences health and development in later life.3 When people with disabilities face further disadvantage and discrimination they are at greater risk of poverty and poor health, exacerbating inequalities.4

Many health outcomes for children and people with disabilities in the UK remain poor. More children and young people are dying in this country than in comparable countries in northern and western Europe.5 6 Within the UK there are striking inequalities in the life chances of children based on the social circumstances into which they are born—a baby girl in Manchester can expect to live 15 fewer years in good health than a baby girl in Richmond.7 There are more …

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