Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Bucking the inequality gradient through early child development

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 11 February 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c468

Rapid Response:

Too close to home for comfort

It seems ironic that after reading this weeks' BMJ articles
dissecting and discussing the findings and proposals of "Fair Society,
Healthy Lives"1 I then open my local weekly newspaper to read headlines
announcing severe cuts in services and provisions within the town. I live
and work in Merthyr Tydfil, and industrial town in South Wales and one of
the poorest in the UK and Europe. It regularly features on "top 10" lists
of shame for poverty, poor health, teenage pregnancy rates, Cancer deaths,
smoking and drinking related disease et al. Unemployment is high and
aspirations low.

My council leader has now decided that due to financial constraints
he intends: -
i)closing 4 local community centres
ii)increasing the costs of meals on wheels
iii) closing local sixth forms
iv) Removing Autism support services
v) reducing support and assistance for homeless teenagers
vi) reducing social service support and care home provisions

In one foul swoop he has gone totally against one of the key
recommendations of the report to create fair employment, good working
conditions and strengthening disease prevention.

I fear that for all the good that this report will do, far too many
communities will continue to lag behind in social and healthcare
provisions, and in my own community the average individual will die far
earlier than the 7 years predicted by the report.

In times of recession, stating that we should "put sustainability and
wellbeing before the narrow focus of economic growth and bring about a
more equal and fair society"2 is all very well but in reality budgets have
to be adhered to and without money to invest, the health gap in my town is
increasing quicker than the nations' debt!

1. Fair Society, Healthy Lives".

2. Focus on early ears to create a fairer society and reduce health
inequality, Marmot review says. NEWS. BMJ 2010;340:c818

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

14 February 2010
David G Samuel
F2 Doctor Care of the Elderly Medicine
Prince Charles Hospital Cf47 9DT