Health Inequalities

The issue of health inequalities has been the focus of much debate since the 1980’s.   Describe the main inequalities in health with reference to social class, gender and ethnicity.   Discuss the effectiveness of recent government responses in tackling these inequalities in relation to social class.

“Within the health sector there has been a plethora of policies explicitly focusing on reducing health inequalities.   In many cases it seems unclear how this will be achieved”. (Scott-Samuel,2004,EQUAL, University of Liverpool)

The Acheson report (1998) investigated many areas where there were significant health inequalities in the UK and made 39 recommendations, although only three of these were prioritised.   In this essay the aim is to look at a few examples of inequalities within the healthcare system.

Gender seems to play a major role in health inequalities.   It has been reported that men are less likely to access health services than women.   Macho attitudes play a significant part in this, perhaps as a nation we initiate this from an early age and deter boys of making a fuss when upset or hurt.
A men’s health group reported that for every £1 spent on men’s health, £8 is spent on women’s health (BBC News, May 1999).
Results speak for themselves; men have a lower life expectancy, a higher suicide rate and a higher death rate from cancer than women. The Samaritans report that 75% of suicides are male (BBC News, May 1999), which once again raises the question whether this is a result of the macho attitude and men belief that seeking medical advice or emotional support is not acceptable.
Drop in clinics at local pubs and sports venues have been suggested to encourage men to access health services effortlessly.

Risk behaviours are more common among men.   Smoking is higher and men are twice as likely to consume excess alcohol as women.
Reports and studies show that most men only turn to health services when the situation is desperate or have been influenced...