Recognising the fundamental connection between health and the economy

Date posted: April 4, 2022
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Recognising the fundamental connection between health and the economy is essential when considering the levelling up agenda. Health inequalities are persistent in our region and they impact our prosperity, the well-being of our communities, and the productivity of our industry.

Midlands Engine has long worked closely with industry, academic, health sector and public sector partners to further our understanding of these disparities through the work of Midlands Engine Health.

The Midlands Engine Health collaboration enables us to effectively champion and expand our region’s world-leading capabilities in health, medical technologies and life sciences, whilst using our research to identify and address the pressing health issues facing our population.

The average life expectancy for men and women in our region is below the UK average, and indeed life expectancies of many of the minority communities in the Midlands falls further below the norm.

All across England, life expectancy varies depending on where people live – people living in the most-deprived areas have a shorter life expectancy than those in the least-deprived areas.

For example, data from the Kings Fund in 2021 showed that people living in Nottingham have a life expectancy nearly seven years shorter than some of those living in the Southeast (79 years in Nottingham and 86 years in Westminster).

We also know these communities are more likely to develop serious illnesses and become more unwell from the same illnesses that have a less damaging impact on those from wealthier communities.

The Midlands was disproportionately impacted by the pandemic – both in terms of economic and health hardships. Research from PWC shows that cities hit hardest during the pandemic, such as Birmingham and Wolverhampton saw their economies decrease by more than 11.7% in 2020, and experienced above average infection and mortality rates in the UK.

We also know that Midlanders are at a higher risk of developing preventable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, due to a range of persisting factors that must be addressed if we are to level up and address regional health and economic inequalities for good. These factors are often influenced by wider determinants such as income, housing, environment, transport, education and work.

Our region’s health and our economy are therefore intrinsically linked.

Our strengths and capabilities in health, MedTech and life sciences are extensive, generating in excess of £25 billion GVA each year and enabling health inequalities to be tackled. Our region is home to the largest cluster of MedTech companies in the UK which deliver over 33,000 highly skilled job, and seven Medical Schools training over 20% of the UK’s medical students.

Our region’s stable, ethnically diverse population provides a proven test bed for global health and multimorbidity interventions. We also host the UK’s largest Clinical Trials Unit and the UK centre for black and minority ethnic health.

Midlands Engine Health underpins and expands on the extensive work already achieved by partners such as Midlands Health Alliance and Midlands Innovation Health, enabling close collaboration to showcase our regional strengths on a national and international platform. This collaboration also allows us to better understand persistent health inequalities and to identify solutions to tackle them. Offering transformational outcomes for our communities, our economy and our future generations.

This is the first in a series of insights which will look closely at some of these issues and explore how partners across the region are leading the fight to deliver on the health and well-being of the Midlands.

For more information, visit Midland’s Health Alliance 

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