The government has said tackling health disparities is a “priority’, after a new report revealed Illness and covid has driven an estimated 400,000 people from the workforce, leading to a possible £8bn drag on the economy.
1m workers are missing from the workers from before the pandemic, with 400,00 due to illness, including long-Covid, according to a new report by progressive think tank, The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).
The study, which was published to mark a Commission on Health and Prosperity, says if this issue left unaddressed, it could “drag down economic activity this year by an estimated £8bn.
The commission includes former Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and former minister Oliver Letwin.
A spokesperson for the Department for Health and Social Care, responded saying Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, “has been clear that tackling health disparities is a priority and to do that we have to focus on the people and places who face the worst health outcomes.”
“Our Health Disparities White Paper, due later this year, will set out bold action to reduce the gap in health outcomes between different places, so that people’s backgrounds do not dictate their prospects for a healthy life.
“The NHS has committed £224 million to support people with long Covid, with 90 sites in England offering specialist services for adults, children and young people.”
Dame Sally Davies, co-chair of the Commission said the “scars of the pandemic still remain deep”, and the cost of living crisis is now being exacerbated by poor health “that’s holding back the economy.”
Chris Thomas, head of the Commission said “politicians must not forget how intrinsically linked our health is to our economic fortunes”, as it moves to a strategy of ‘living with Covid’.
“An unthinking return to the status quo would be a grotesque injustice to all who have lost their lives and livelihoods.”
Jordan Cummins, Confederation of British Industry health director said: “Health and prosperity are clearly interlinked. Post-pandemic, it’s time to prioritise the partnership between business and government to get the right investment, policy decisions and industry support for health interventions supporting UK productivity.
“Restoring momentum to UK growth is hugely important amid tough headwinds, which is why the CBI and wider business community are committed to exploring solutions to help tackle health inequalities.”