How Covid is making inequalities in health even worse

A man walks past a poster in the window of a Primark shop in Manchester, in the final week of a four

A man walks past a poster in the window of a Primark shop in the final week of a four week national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. - Credit: PA

The Covid crisis has revealed the inequalities on our doorstep like never before, so today we are launching a new series investigating Norfolk’s health postcode lottery. 

Even before the virus hit, our research found people born in the richer areas of the county are likely to have 15 more years of healthy life, free from chronic conditions, than those from the poorer areas. 

The lottery also dictates how long you will live, with the top life expectancy for Norfolk’s poorest areas at 78 years - the same as the minimum life expectancy in the richest areas.  

The gap between rich and poor drives addiction, obesity and mental health problems.  

We know 75pc more people from poorer areas of Norfolk and Waveney contacted NHS mental health services last year compared to people from richer areas, and experts are warning worse is to come as the Covid fallout continues. 

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Our research also shows that poorer parts of Norwich, Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn have had four times as many coronavirus cases as the more affluent areas.

Poverty also affects diet and before the pandemic, in some parts of Norfolk, 70pc of adults and 37pc of children were overweight or obese, with deprivation and poverty a big driver. 

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Now, while some tackle fitness challenges and sign up to lockdown Zoom classes, more families than ever are struggling to feed themselves properly as job losses and pay cuts take their toll. 

And fears are growing that the long-established link between poverty and addiction will worsen, with the lockdowns hitting recovering addicts hard and pressures on alcohol and drug charities growing by the day. 

This series explores the county’s health inequalities and asks what can be done to help the most vulnerable in our community. 

Day 1: Norfolk's health inequalities revealed

Day 2: How Covid affected our mental health

Day 3: How Covid affected our physical health

Day 4: Lockdown's impact on addiction services

Day 5: Our health manifesto for Norfolk & Waveney

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