I received an email from Legal & General last week. To my surprise, it wasn’t telling me my pension was now worthless or that I had missed a payment for something or other. Instead, it outlined the company’s support for a new review that shows how health inequality is rife and can only negatively impact upon business. Apparently, some people in charge need to be reminded that a healthy economy relies upon a healthy workforce.

Main author, Sir Michael Marmot, is director of the UCL Institute of Health Equity and professor of epidemiology and public health at UCL. Introducing his review, he stated, ‘Inflation of more than 8%, and the government’s failure to deal with the cost of living crisis for the poorest people will put an extra 1.3 million people, including 500,000 children, below the poverty line.’

The population of the United Kingdom is expected to reach 67.44 million by the end of 2022, according to the financial forecaster Trading Economics. As of 2020, around 11.7 million people in the UK were living in relative poverty, with that number increasing to almost 14.5 million when housing costs are considered. A rough calculation, therefore, suggests that as many as 23% of the UK population will be in some level of poverty by the end of this year. 23%!

Direct impacts on eye care professionals (missed appointments, extended use of older corrections, failure to adhere to care systems and replacement schedules, failure to attend appointments) will be just the tip of the iceberg. Expect a spike in the incidence of insidious-onset diseases, concerns linked to poor compliance with existing management, and health problems linked to lifestyle choices. And before the Uriah Heeps out their tut at the last point; the Food Foundation shows how those in the bottom 10% would have to spend 74% of their income to follow healthy eating guidance.

Now is not the time to go private.

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