Northern England ‘worst hit’ by Covid-19 pandemic say experts

The north of England has been hit harder by the Covid-19 pandemic than any other part of the country.

A study authored by the Northern Health Science Alliance has found evidence that trends in poverty, education, unemployment and mental health for children and young people had worsened since the start of the pandemic.

The report, led by scientists from four northern universities said the increased mortality rates are significant compared to the rest of the country.

The figures show a vulnerable region from austerity struggling even more as unemployment rises.

An extra 57.7 more people per 100,000 died in the ‘Northern Powerhouse’, which includes Manchester, than the rest of England between March and July.

Pre-pandemic child health was already deteriorating in these areas and since the pandemic adverse trends in poverty have worsened.

Economic outcomes, specifically unemployment rates, were hardest hit in the north.

The report also listed recommendations to the government to ‘level-up’ the country including targeting vulnerable and deprived communities in the first phase of the Covid-19 vaccine roll out.

They also urge the government to reduce child poverty by increasing child benefits, extending free childcare and free school meals and more investment in children’s services.

Professor Clare Bambra, Professor of public health at Newcastle University said: “Our report highlights that we are not all in the pandemic together with the northern regions being hardest hit.

“Health and wealth in the Northern Powerhouse lagged behind the rest of the country even before the COVID pandemic, and over the last year our significant regional inequalities have been exacerbated.”

Hannah Davies, Health Inequalities lead for the Northern Health Science Alliance warned: “Health inequalities between the north and the rest of England have been growing for over a decade.

“This report demonstrates the impact that has had on the productivity of the region and how it has led Covid-19 to take a devastating grip on the north.”

Angela Rayner, Labour MP for Ashton under Lyne, commented on this report on Twitter.

She said: “The coronavirus crisis has supercharged the north/south divide and the huge regional inequalities that already existed before the pandemic.

“We were promised ‘levelling up’ but all we’ve had so far is talking down and our people being seen as worth 13% less.”

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