NHS 75: 'In 2023 we should not be allowing people to die earlier because they're less wealthy'

  • Report by ITV Wales Cost of Living Correspondent, Carole Green.

On the 75th anniversary of the NHS, doctors say wealth inequality should not affect the health of people in poorer areas.

However in doctors in Mountain Ash, Cynon Valley, have told ITV Cymru Wales that they see first hand the effect of people living in disadvantaged areas.

The Royal College of General Practitioners in Wales believes there is a strong need to address inequalities in health.

People living in more deprived areas are more likely to have less good health, according to Dr Christmas.

Dr Rowena Christmas is the group's chair and she said the health of patients who live in areas like Mountain Ash is "actually significantly less good than people living just a few miles away in affluent Cardiff".

Dr Christmas added: "Shockingly, they are more likely to die earlier, than people who are wealthier, and we need to address that.

"In 2023 we should not be allowing people to die earlier simply because they're less wealthy."

Dr Nicola Mogford works at Meddygfa Glan Cynon Surgery in Mountain Ash.

Meanwhile, Dr Nicola Mogford has worked in Mountain Ash for the last 20 years.

Dr Mogford told ITV News that she has been trying to drive up the general health of her community, focusing on prevention and not just cure.

  • "Their knowledge of medicine isn't as good as more affluent areas"

Dr Mogford said: "Our patients develop chronic diseases earlier, become disabled earlier, there are a lot of lifestyle related problems, cancer mortality levels are higher, our patients die earlier.

She added: "Unfortunately wealth inequalities translate into health inequalities and the funding in these areas of Deep End practices needs to be addressed so we can start rising to the challenges we're facing on a daily basis.

Meddygfa Glan Cynon Surgery is the health centre in Mountain Ash which opened in 2021.

The Deep End Project is a pilot asking GP practices what issues there are and to look for potential solutions, using a grass roots approach.

Dr Mogford went on to say that the "knowledge of medicine isn't as good as more affluent areas".

"We have patients presenting late on in disease and we could have made a difference had they presented early."

Dr Mogford told ITV News the extent of how much pressure they're under by saying: "The safe number of patients per day a GP should be seeing, according to the British Medical Association is 25.

"We often see 50. I've seen 80...90 when I've been on call, which is completely unsafe for me and completely unsafe for my patients."

At a Healthy Start/Healthy Life session held at the surgery, mum Amy Powell spoke about why she wants the best for her daughter, baby Luna.

She said how important it is her daughter gets off to a healthy start: "I want to pick up some really good habits that she'll adapt early into adulthood, that she'll remember.

Amy added: "Like being into water, rather than pop...fruit and veg instead of wanting sweet stuff.

Amy is keen to make sure her daughter Luna grows up making healthy choices

"We're trying to get it into those good habits."

Amy described why being healthy is "very important" for her family as her dad has lung disease and her eldest child has asthma. It is of key importance."

And asked why she goes to the sessions at the surgery, she said: "I'd like to learn new things every time for my children as I want to give them a better start in communities like Mountain Ash."

The Welsh Government said: “The NHS' 75th birthday is a chance to celebrate our health service and the staff who are its beating heart.

"We continue to increase the health and social care budget despite cuts to our budget from the UK Government.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...