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Health inequities are worsening across Britain. Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that men in England’s most deprived areas die almost a decade earlier than those living in affluent neighbourhoods. For women, life expectancy is falling in deprived areas. During the coronavirus pandemic, the strong emerging relation between covid-19 death rates and area deprivation reported by ONS and Public Health England has shown the exacerbation of existing inequities and highlighted the need for more comprehensive datasets in order to understand and reduce them.
The measurement and description of health and social inequities tends to rely on data at the level of geographical areas rather than individuals. We consider the limitations of using geographical data and look at how the collection of individual level socioeconomic data by healthcare systems could help to deliver care that is responsive to patients’ social contexts and generate an enhanced dataset for research and monitoring of healthcare equity.