COVID 19 Hits the North of England the Hardest, Report Suggests

The North of England has suffered more deaths and socioeconomic hardship as a result of the pandemic than any other region, according to research published this month (10th November).

(Image: Pexels)

The report concludes that the Coronavirus pandemic has heightened inequalities between the North and the rest of England and makes recommendations to mitigate against further disparities.

The report, entitled ‘Covid-19 and the Northern Powerhouse: Tackling Health Inequalities for UK Health and Productivity’, found that between March and July 2020, “57.7 more people per 100,000 died in the Northern Powerhouse than the rest of England due to all-causes”, costing the economy £6.86 billion in productivity losses.

The report features analysis from University of York health expert, Professor Kate Pickett.

Not only were mortality rates during the first wave of the pandemic higher in the North than the rest of England, with Covid-19 deaths reaching an extra 12.4 more people per 100,000, but employment rates and loneliness were most prominent too.

It found that both the health and economic impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic “disproportionately affected the Northern Powerhouse”, with reductions in mental wellbeing alone costing the economy up to as much as £5 billion in reduced productivity.

The North East, and Yorkshire and the Humber were found to be among the hardest hit.

The report points to the effects of austerity, which it argues has left the “Northern Powerhouse more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic crisis”.

Professor Pickett, of the Department of Health Sciences, found that Northern children in particular, already at a disadvantage compared to the rest of England, are being further disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

The report found that “substantial, persistent regional inequalities” have heightened as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has negatively impacted education and mental health for children and young adults.

Child poverty rates in the North are already among the highest in the country, reaching up to 41% in parts of the North East.

Professor Kate Pickett said: “Covid-19 has brought into sharp focus the unacceptable inequalities in health and life chances suffered by children in the North. We need policies now that support our families and children during and following the pandemic.”

The report concluded with a number of suggestions to national government to halt the further exacerbation of problems felt in the North.

These include additional investment into enhanced track and trace facilities, targeting of “deprived communities” during the first phase of a vaccine, and an increase in NHS and local authority service provision for mental health in these areas.

The report states that a “concerted effort” is necessary to “ensure that the productivity gap experienced by today’s workforce, does not persist to hamper children and young people in years to come”.

The report was commissioned by the Northern Health Science Alliance in partnership with the Northern Applied Research Collaborations: ARC North East and North Cumbria, ARC Greater Manchester, ARC North West Coast, and ARC Yorkshire and Humber.

More information can be found on the Northern Health Science Alliance website here.