Major new report connects North’s poor health with poor productivity

  • The North’s poor productivity connected to health for first time
  • Outlines a new way of tackling productivity issues in UK through health
  • Tackling North’s health could generate an additional £13.2bn a year
  • Workers with ill health in the North are 39% more likely to lose their job than a similar individual in the rest of England.
  • If these workers with ill health do return to work, their wages are 66% lower than a similar individual in the rest of England.
  • Relatively small decreases in the rates of ill health and mortality could reduce the gap in (GVA) per-head between the North and the rest of England by 10%.
  • A 1% increase in NHS spending per-head could increase the median weekly wage by £44 in the Northern Powerhouse compared to £26 in the rest of England

Poor health has been linked with the North’s poor productivity for the first time in a major new report by six northern universities.

Health for Wealth: Building a Healthier Northern Powerhouse for UK Productivity was commissioned by the Northern Health Science Alliance to look at the relationship between the North’s poorer health and its poorer productivity.

The report was launched today(November 20) at an event in Newcastle with Dame Jackie Daniel CEO of Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Leader of Newcastle Council Nick Forbes, Director of Northern Powerhouse Partnership Henri Murison, CEO of the NHSA Dr Hakim Yadi and Professor of Public Health at Newcastle University Clare Bambra.

Tackling health inequalities between the North and South would put an extra £13.2bn into the economy according to the report.

Improving health in the North would lead to substantial economic gains, reducing the £4 gap in productivity per-person per-hour between the Northern Powerhouse and the rest of England by 30% or £1.20 per-person per-hour.

Report lead author Professor Bambra said: “This report demonstrates the connection between poor productivity and higher rates of ill health in the North. If you improve health in the North you will improve its productivity – potentially benefiting the whole of the UK’s economy.

“For the Northern Powerhouse to reach its full potential there needs to be increased investment in place-based public health in local authorities. There needs to be increased NHS funding in the North, spent on prevention services and health science research.

“Work needs to be done to improve labour market participation and job retention among people with a health condition in the region. Poorer health in the North affects the entire country’s economy, a healthier Northern Powerhouse will mean a healthier UK economy.”

Dr Hakim Yadi CEO of the Northern Health Science Alliance, an alliance of universities, hospitals and AHSNs across the North of England, said: “We’re missing out on £13.2bn in the North’s economy by not being smart with investment in health.

“Post-Brexit we need to build a stronger, healthier UK economy and the North of England is a key part of this. By improving health we can also make a direct impact on productivity and that is something no government should ignore.”

The report was written by Clare Bambra, Luke Munford, Heather Brown, Anna Wilding, Tomos Robinson, Paula Holland, Ben Barr, Harry Hill, Martyn Regan, Nigel Rice, Matthew Sutton. The universities involved in the report are: Newcastle University, University of Manchester, University of Lancaster, University of York, University of Liverpool and Sheffield University.

Key report findings

  • Reducing the number of working aged people with limiting long term health conditions by 10% would decrease rates of economic inactivity by 3 percentage points in the Northern Powerhouse
  • Increasing the NHS budget by 10% in the Northern Powerhouse will decrease economic inactivity rates by 3 percentage points
  • If they experience a spell of ill health, working people in the Northern Powerhouse are 39% more likely to lose their job compared to their counterparts in the Rest of England. If they subsequently get back into work, then their wages are 66% lower than a similar individual in the rest of England.
  • Decreasing rates of ill health by 1.2% and decreasing mortality rates by 0.7% would reduce the gap in gross value added (GVA) per-head between the Northern Powerhouse and the Rest of England by 10%.
  • Increasing of the proportion of people in good health in the Northern Powerhouse by 3.5% would reduce the employment gap between the Northern Powerhouse and the rest of England by 10%
  • Given the relationship between health, health care and productivity in the Northern Powerhouse, then in order to improve UK productivity, we need to improve health in the North.

Recommendations

Central Government

  1. To improve health in the North by increasing investment in place-based public health in Northern Powerhouse local authorities
  2. To improve labour market participation and job retention amongst people with a health condition in the Northern Powerhouse
  3. To increase NHS funding in the Northern Powerhouse – to be spent on prevention services and health science research
  4. To reduce economic inequality between the North and the rest of England by implementing an inclusive, green industrial strategy

Northern Powerhouse Local and Regional Stakeholders

  1. Health and Wellbeing boards and the emerging NHS integrated care systems should commission more health promotion, condition management and prevention services
  2. Local enterprise partnerships, local authorities and devolved Northern regions should develop locally tailored ‘health-first’ programmes in partnership with the local NHS and third sector providers
  3. Local enterprise partnerships, local authorities and devolved Northern regions should scale-up their place-based public health programmes across the life course: ‘starting well’, ‘living well’ and ‘ageing well’.
  4. Local businesses should support job retention and health promotion interventions across the Northern Powerhouse workforce and Northern city regions and Northern NHS integrated care systems should lead by example.  

 

 

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