A MAJOR report published today condemns the Government's austerity measures for hitting the north the hardest, and calls for radical change to halt the growing north-south health divide.

The independent report commissioned by Public Health England highlights the massive inequalities between north and south and says devolving powers and resources away from London could make a real difference.

One of the report’s contributors, Professor Clare Bambra of Durham University, told The Northern Echo that the Government’s austerity measures had been “an absolute disaster” for the north with the most needy areas losing the most funding.

As well as greater devolution, the report calls on the Government to:

  • Invest in high quality early years education and childcare;
  • Promote a living wage;
  • Use its spending power to promote good employment;
  • Improve the quality and affordability of housing;
  • Invest in sectors that can provide sustainable, high quality jobs in disadvantaged areas.

Prof Bambra, one of 11 independent experts who contributed to the report, said: “The differences in people’s health in the north compared to other parts of the UK are totally unacceptable.

"Without a radical change to the current approach to health inequality, we are likely to see things getting worse.

“We need to protect and prioritise spending on children in early years and allocate a greater share of NHS and economic resources to the places that need it most.”