A Review Of Acheson Report Health Essay
The report also calls for more funding support to schools in deprived areas, better nutrition and the concept of health-promoting schools. Benefit levels for providing nutritional meals to children should be increased and food should be more affordable for fulfilling nutritional needs of children.
The report also focuses on smoking and drinking problems urging for restrictions on smoking in public places, a ban on tobacco advertising and promotion, mass educational initiatives, increases in the price of tobacco and the prescriptions for nicotine replacement therapy. The Acheson report also suggests close links between health and mortality rates.
The Acheson report has been instrumental in shaping, directing and implementing several changes in the NHS Health policy. Several studies and research reports have been published on the impact and influence of the Acheson report on changes within health care policy. The Acheson report identified three crucial areas on social gradient and health inequalities and suggested that:
- a high priority should be given to the health of families with children;
- all policies likely to have an impact on health should be evaluated in terms of their impact on health inequalities;
- steps should be taken to reduce income inequalities and improve the living standards of poor households.
The Acheson Report and UK Health Policies
The Acheson Report 1998, an Independent Inquiry into Inequalities in Health was similar to the Black Report 1980 and can be considered as a Department of Health review of the evidence on inequalities in health in England.
The Department of Health has responded to the Acheson report by taking an official course of action. The Department of Health mentions that tackling health inequalities is a top priority for the Government, and is focused on narrowing the health gap between disadvantaged groups, communities and the rest of the country, and on improving health overall.
The strategy for addressing this problems is published in, 'Tackling Health Inequalities: A Programme for Action' that lays the foundations for meeting the Government's target to reduce the health gap on infant mortality and life expectancy by 2010.A programme for action include a three-year plan for tackling health inequalities and to help local organisations improve the way services are delivered to disadvantaged groups.
The programme for action in response to the Acheson report is based on:
- Supporting families, mothers and children
- Engaging Communities and Individuals
- Preventing Illness and providing Effective treatment and Care
- Addressing the underlying determinants of health
The Acheson report suggests that socioeconomic inequalities in health and expectation of life have been found in England for many years and there have been data identifying differences in longevity by one's socioeconomic position. Inequalities of health are measured in terms of mortality, life expectancy or health status and could be categorised by socioeconomic status, ethnic group or gender.
The Acheson report suggested that there are differences in the health status of mothers, babies, people of lower socioeconomic status and people who smoke or drink heavily. The report definitely shows that death rates are falling in England and the rates have fallen since 1896.
Thus life expectancy seems to have risen in the last few years although healthy life expectancy has not been rising. In fact the proportion of people with long standing illness has risen from 15 percent to 22 percent (Acheson Report, 1998).
The Acheson report thus gave new insights on health policies and identified issues that contribute to an increased rate of mortality and possible ill health. It identified several socioeconomic determinants including income distribution and household below average income, education, employment, housing, homelessness, public sector, transport and health related behaviour.
Following the report, the Choosing Health White Paper given by the Department of Health sets out the key principles for supporting the public to make healthier and more informed choices in regards to their health. Through the paper, the Government has provided information and practical support to get people motivated and improve emotional well-being and also provide access to services to encourage people to make healthy choices.
The government has also drawn up a food and health action plan that focuses on the ways that better health can be achieved through better nutrition at all stages of life and for different groups in society, recognising and addressing different needs, particularly those of disadvantaged groups (Choosing Health, DH, 2004). The government has also set up the Health Improvement Plan and a new NHS plan for tackling health inequalities
81% of people in higher socio-economic groups consider themselves to be in good health now, compared with 61% of people in the lowest groups 76% of people in the higher groups expect to be in good health in 10 years' time, compared to 53% of people in the lowest groups (DH, 2004).
Putting forward the NHS improvement plan, the Government reiterated the NHS commitment that the NHS is motivated to prevent disease and improve health in general. The Government policies are focused on the fact that inequalities in health cannot be accepted and the fundamental objective is to create healthier choices for disadvantaged groups.
The NHS Improvement plan was laid down in 2004 to not only counter health inequalities but also provide better quality of care to patients and provide safer and more effective treatment. The NHS Improvement Plan set out modernisation and health plans putting patients and service users first through more personalised care; a focus on the whole of health and well-being, not only illness; and further devolution of decision-making to local organisations. (DH, 2004)
According to the Government report and Action Plan laid out in then Choosing Health White paper the nutritional priorities were given as follows:
- increase in the average consumption of a variety of fruit and vegetables
- increase in the average intake of dietary fibre to 18 grams per day
- reducing average intake of salt to 6 grams per day
- reduce average intake of saturated fat
- maintaining the current trends in reducing average intake of total fat
- reducing the average intake of added sugar
- (Choosing Health White paper, 2004)