Local GP highlights the unexpected impact of hidden poverty in Surrey and its consequences for healthcare provision.
Surrey is perceived as affluent, but pockets of poverty are widespread throughout the county, leading to varying healthcare outcomes in some communities.
Despite parts of the county including Elmbridge, Mole Valley and Waverley among the most wealthy areas in the UK, the wealth gap in Surrey is extreme, hiding in many cases individuals and families who struggle to gain access to healthcare services.
Trevor Dale, managing director of Atrainability, said:
“The reality of living in Surrey is that those who have a real need can easily be overlooked as they are masked by more affluent areas right next to them.”
Earlier research from the Community Foundation for Surrey titled, ‘Surrey Uncovered’ found the county faces issues such as child poverty, unemployment, isolated older people and a high proportion of low income and lone-parent households.
Within the research, the Foundation found that shockingly, in a number of areas across Surrey, more than 30% of children and young people live in poverty, some areas being significantly worse than the national average. A dozen wards have a higher rate of mental health issues amongst children and young people than the national average.
Another healthcare-related issue linked to this hidden poverty is childhood obesity, with one in four under 15s either overweight or obese.
Speaking on the Atrainability Radio podcast, Dr Andy Knox, a local GP working in Surrey said:
“There is some profound poverty in Surrey. And I think that’s partly because there is so much privatisation in Surrey around education, healthcare and other services. This has left people who really need public services with very little left.”
Trevor Dale is keen to highlight that these problems are on our doorstep and within our local communities. However, these are issues that, with support and help, can be solved.
According to an NHS report published in December 2018 (NHS Equality and Health Inequalities Pack), people living in deprived areas on average have poorer health and shorter lives. Research shows that socioeconomic inequalities result in increased morbidity and decreased life expectancy.
The UCL Institute of Health Equity estimates 1.3 to 2.5 million potential years of life lost annually due to inequalities.
The Equality and Health Inequalities Pack shows, for NHS Guildford and Waverley, 87% of patients were likely to recommend services to friends and family.
Clinical quality has improved, along with lower onward referral rates and shorter waiting times. Consultants audited outpatient services by looking at the service received by ten patients per speciality. All services were rated ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.
“It’s evident that large wealth gaps have a negative impact on healthcare outcomes. In the UK, access to essential services is universal. However, the level to which a person uses these opportunities depends on their self-reliance and resilience.”
“Surrey is perceived as very successful. Therefore it’s necessary to look more closely to statistics, to tell the story of people and places, and to make sure that they don’t remain hidden in the figures.”
Notes for editors:
Atrainability is recognised as one of the leading providers of in-house Human Factors Training for critical teams. They have worked extensively with the NHS since 2002 and have been at the heart of National programmes, research projects and academic papers.
Atrainability managing director Trevor Dale specialises in Human Factors and has experience of training back to 1990 when he was part of the team that introduced the subject into British Airways as a method of reducing ‘pilot error’.
He retired as a Training Captain flying Boeing 747’s in 2005 and had focused on training trainers and crew in simulation, class and aircraft. Trevor began working in Human Factors in healthcare in 2002 with paediatric cardiac surgery and now continues to do so across the entire spectrum from surgery, ITU, anaesthesia to mental health.
Atrainability Radio is the weekly Human Factors audio podcast from Atrainability, featuring inspiring interviews with guest experts. You can listen at atrainability.co.uk/radio.
Dr Andy Knox:
Dr Andy Knox is a General Practitioner based in North West England and a representative of the Poverty Truth Commission. Andy trained as a doctor in Manchester, England and worked in various hospitals across the city before training as a GP. He is now an executive GP for Lancashire North Clinical Commissioning Group and works with the Better Care Together Team for Morecambe Bay.
Andy talks to Trevor Dale on Atrainability Radio about the impact of massive health inequalities across the UK and developing a culture together, in order to create real wellness within our communities. Re-imagining cities and regions as healthy places, challenging the status quo and re-imaging the future.
Watch Andy’s TEDxNHS 2019 live talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfIyXle2y1k
The early analysis (6-9 months post programme) for participating patients showed a noticeable downward trend in A&E activity post-intervention. Similarly, for participating patients, re-active GP and Advanced Nurse Practitioner appointments fell noticeably. The study found that all of the 32 patients who filled out pre and post evaluation questionnaires indicated an improvement in mobility, depression and pain management. The patients who filled out the programme satisfaction questionnaire would all recommend the service to others.