Chief Executive of Healthwatch England, Visits Belper Food and Community Hub to Address Cost of Living Impact and Health Inequalities
Chief Executive of Healthwatch England Louise Ansari, paid a visit to the Hope for Belper Food and Community Hub recently to speak with local people and discuss the growing concerns surrounding the impact of the rising cost of living on their health. The visit highlighted the urgent need to address these issues to prevent further health inequalities in health outcomes.
During the visit, Louise alongside Engagement Officer Helen Aldridge, had candid conversations with members of the community who shared their experiences of how the increasing cost of living has been affecting their overall health and well-being. Many individuals revealed that financial stress caused by high living expenses often leads to difficult choices, forcing them to compromise on essentials, including prescriptions and health appointments.
Research from Healthwatch England has shown that the rising cost of living has already caused some people problems paying for medicines, as well as dental treatment, and affording the cost of travelling to hospital.
The cost of living has emerged as a significant barrier to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for many individuals and families in Belper, as well as nationally. Commenting on her visit to Derbyshire, Louise emphasized the importance of local voices and their role in shaping health and care services:
“Thank you, Healthwatch Derbyshire, for the opportunity to visit the community of Belper. This experience really reinforced what I’ve been hearing from Healthwatch across England – that rising costs are forcing many of us to make difficult, and sometimes harmful, decisions about our healthcare.
“Vulnerable groups, in particular, such as people on disability and means-tested benefits and younger people, are more likely to make tough decisions to avoid essential services.
“But community groups like Healthwatch and our local partners play a vital role in supporting people most affected by rising costs and health inequalities – by helping people to access care and by using people’s stories to show government and health and care services why they must do more to support people during the cost-of-living crisis.
“I encourage anyone who uses NHS or social care services to reach out to their local Healthwatch if they need support and to share their story with us. We want to know about the issues affecting your wellbeing and what help you need to live your life to the fullest”.
As part of Healthwatch Derbyshire’s ongoing efforts to promote access to health and care for all, the visit aimed to raise awareness about the link between the cost of living and health outcomes. By shining a light on these challenges, Healthwatch Derbyshire hopes to encourage NHS leaders and decision-makers to collaborate to avoid finances having an impact on people’s health.