A NEW report has shown that communities in the North of England were the worst hit in the country by Covid-19, with pre-existing deprivation and health inequalities amplifying the impact of the pandemic.

The findings, published today by the Northern Health Science Alliance, reveal how the North fared worse in almost every area of statistics when it came to the impact of Covid-19.

Northerners were more likely to die from the virus, were made poorer by the virus’ impact, spent longer in lockdown and suffered more mental health issues from the pandemic than the rest of the UK.

Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe said it’s common knowledge the North has been hit harder by Covid and called on Government to address the inequalities urgently.

The report found people living in the North had a 17 per cent higher mortality rate due to Covid-19 than in the rest of England, and a 14 per cent higher overall mortality due to all causes.

The North’s care home Covid-19 mortality was 26 per cent higher than the rest of England, and 10 per cent more hospital beds were occupied by Covid patients than in the rest of England in the North.

On average people living in the North had 41 more days of the harshest lockdown restrictions than people in the rest of the country – Bradford was forced into lockdown on August 1, 2020, while the rest of the country enjoyed relative freedom.

Wages in the North, which were lower than the rest of England before the pandemic, fell further, whereas wages increased in the rest of the country and the unemployment rate in the North was 19 per cent higher than the rest of England.

Bradford saw a significant rise in unemployment as Covid began to bite, but thankfully in recent months more people have been finding work as the economy returns to a more normal state.

The report also found the North had a bigger drop in mental wellbeing and rises in loneliness and prescriptions of anti-depressants.

Clare Bambra, professor of public health at Newcastle University, said: “Our report shows how regional health inequalities before Covid have resulted in an unequal pandemic, with higher rates of ill health, death and despair in the North.

“The economic impact of the lockdown is also looking likely to exacerbate the regional economic divide.

“The Government’s levelling up agenda needs to seriously address health inequalities in the North, for all generations.”

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council, said: Bradford Council Leader, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “We all know from our experience over the last 18 months that the North has been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19.

“Whilst many have thankfully recovered, there are still a substantial number of people experiencing the debilitating effects of long Covid.

“We also know the mental health of our young people in particular has suffered as a result of the pandemic.

“We will be dealing with the impact of Covid on people’s physical and mental health long after we have this virus under control, not to mention the economic impact.

“As a council we have invested in Future Boost, a huge jobs and skills programme for our young people.

“The unemployment rate among young people has doubled during the pandemic but there is a broader set of residents in Bradford that will also need support to get on their feet.

“Covid-19 has highlighted the health inequalities in the North.We need Government to address these inequalities in the upcoming spending review.

“Words are not enough, we need to see action and proper funding for recovery in the North.”

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