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Post-2010 strategic review of health inequalities (the Marmot Review)

  • Last modified date:
    24 February 2010

Fair Society, Healthy Lives – the report of the Marmot review - was published on 11 February. It was described as a “landmark report” by Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Health at the Marmot Review conference.  The review stressed that tackling health inequalities was a matter of social justice, with real economic benefits and savings.  It required action on the social gradient of health – not just on the health of the most disadvantaged – across the social determinants of health. 

The report builds on 10 years of work that has seen health and life expectancy improve for all, including those people living in disadvantaged groups and areas.  However, narrowing the gap remains a key challenge.   It recognised the success of the  Programme for Action (2003) in creating momentum and innovation to reduce health inequalities by action across government.  It acknowledged that with the right tools and levers, evidence and learning in place, there is now the opportunity to build on this work into the next decade.

The review was established following a commitment in Progress and Next Steps (2008) which set the framework for the future development of health inequalities.  On 6 November 2008, the Secretary of State for Health, announced that Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Chair of the WHO Commission for Social Determinants, will lead an independent Post 2010 Strategic Review of Health Inequalities and report back at the end of 2009.

The review has been wide ranging and required the Department of Health leadership across government to develop a joint approach to tackling health inequalities. Local government, the NHS, health and social care system and local community organisations were also important partners with whom the review engaged with to help us meet our challenge post 2010, as well as the advice of many experts to help shape our thinking.

Fair Society, Healthy Lives provides a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the state of health inequalities in England; acknowledges the nature, sustainability and intensity of government policies over the years towards improving social justice and equity, and identifies key areas for future action across the social determinants of health. These include action on the early years; education; skills and life chances; work; a healthy standard of living; sustainable communities, and prevention. 

The review’s advice will contribute to the development of a cross government health inequalities strategy post- 2010, to build on the current national PSA targets on health inequalities when they expire in 2011.  The Department of Health has already started to steer this new strategy through the Cross Government Health Inequalities Programme Board and its supportive Working Group.

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