A poem published at the height of the pandemic highlighted that we "are in the same storm, but not in the same boat". Some claimed the coronavirus outbreak was a great equaliser, but the impact of COVID-19 has fallen unevenly and unequally on society.
PHE's report on the impact of COVID-19 set out how those who live in more deprived areas were twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than those in wealthier areas. Additionally, Black men were four times as likely, and Asian men were three times as likely to die from coronavirus than their white counterparts. Women of colour were also impacted, as deaths were almost 3 times higher in Black, Mixed and Other females, and 2.4 times higher in Asian females compared with White women.
As the Health Foundation reports, people faced the virus, and lockdown, from unequal starting points. The increased number of coronavirus cases and, sadly, deaths in the Black, Asian, and minority ethnic community mirror the inequalities already so prevalent across the country. A long term lack of national focus on health inequalities is thought to have affected many, but there is now an opportunity for a stronger national and local focus on this issue.
With news that Public Health England is to be dissolved and replaced by the National Institute for Health Protection, and the greater focus on health inequalities exposed by COVID-19, there will be questions over the coming months about the NHS' role in prevention and public health and how trusts can maximise their role in communities to support the response to health inequalities.