M2: Discuss the factors likely to influence current and future patterns of health in the UK.
In the 21st century society there are two current factors that are very obvious in affecting patterns of health. These are that of social class affecting health and lifestyle choices.
There has always been a link between social class and health, even with the welfare state and the improvements made to health in all sections of societies over the years, a difference still remains in this area. This difference is applied to all aspects of health, which include life expectancy, general levels of health and infant mortality. Many people argue that as long as the quality of life is improving in all public sectors then there is no concern for anyone. On the other hand some others argue that the failure to close this social difference is a disgrace particularly taking into account that the NHS has now been operational for 62 years and this still hasn’t removed the marked differences in all sections of health across the social classes. Since social class encompasses a number of different influences such as wealth, culture, status, employment and background, which makes the link between social class and ill health is complicated.
In 2012, an article in the Guardian newspaper, written by health correspondent Dennis Campbell, publicised that the middle class population are making the trend of attempting to improve their health thrive whilst the ones in lower class continue with risky behaviour which therefore increases their chances of developing a range of serious illnesses and put ‘unavoidable pressure’ on an already hard-pressed NHS. During the period of time where the Labour government embarked on a campaign to encourage people to live healthier lives, 2003-2008, a study was carried out to look at the differences between the health of people in different social classes. The results showed that those with no education qualification were more than five times likely as those with degrees to engage in four key damaging behaviours in 2008, compared with three times as likely in 2003. Due to these statistics being found there has now been a lot of doubt over whether government health secretary will fulfil his pledge to ‘improve the health of the poorest fastest’ so as to improve the gap in health inequalities. This has restarted the debate as to how to encourage poorer people to adopt healthier habits as it was proved that the UK’s richest citizens live seven years longer on average than the poorer neighbours.
This increasing divide was identified by David Buck, a senior fellow at the King’s Fund who was head of health inequalities at the Department of Health until 2010. Buck stated that ‘the [widening] inequality gap is due to the improvement in those at the top, and, to a lesser degree, those in the middle, not because those at the bottom have got worse per se. They're stuck in a rut’.
The second factor that currently affects health greatly in the UK is lifestyle choices. A person’s lifestyle choices can depict what happens to the individual in the future and currently it is getting out of hand and causing more and more negative patterns of health. Factors including smoking, diet, alcohol, culture, recreational drugs and access to leisure and recreational facilities all affect leading a healthy lifestyle.
The government has put out many advertisements on lifestyle choices, particularly their campaign on getting the nation healthier, and therefore nowadays everyone knows how to do it, it is whether they act on this or not that is the problem. They are fully aware of the effects it has on both them and the individual’s surrounding them. There are more strategies implemented to try and reduce the number of people the smoke, drink excessively and take drugs.
The biggest scheme done by the government is the education for the population on how to eat healthily and the...