The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Wales has joined 33 other health and social care organisations to call on the Welsh government to commit to tackling health inequalities across the nation.
In a letter to Mark Drakeford, the first minister of Wales, sent on 22 February 2021, the bodies — who form the Welsh health and social care policy forum — call for a “a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities”.
The letter says that whilst Public Health Wales “is leading on prevention work through Building a Healthier Wales … we believe that social care and the NHS alone simply don’t have the levers to make some of the other radical changes we know are vital, including action to tackle poor housing, access to education, and poverty reduction, which sit across a variety of government portfolios”.
In a statement, RPS Wales said that the call to urgent action has been made ahead of the Welsh parliament elections in May 2021, and “focuses on the growing link between poverty and poor health outcomes which have been further highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic”. The letter adds that while COVID-19 has “exposed and intensified” health inequalities, this is an urgent matter that “is not an issue to be addressed once the pandemic is behind us”.
Elen Jones, RPS director for Wales, said that “the pharmacy profession, and particularly the network of community pharmacies, already helps to buck the trend of the inverse care law, ensuring all communities have access to health expertise.
“It’s clear, however, that a wide-reaching strategy is needed to tackle the root cause of inequalities in health. Collective action at national and local levels is now needed and we want to see a cross-government commitment in Wales to move this important work forward.”