England measures “deprivation” using seven domains: Living environment, Employment, Barriers to housing, Crime, Income, Education, and Health.
Whilst many of these domains are independent of healthcare, healthcare is nevertheless well placed to attenuate their effects, through reducing the severity and progression of disease. Success, however, depends on how effectively care is delivered according to need across the socioeconomic spectrum.
Although we have enormous pride in our health service, as students we often lack a clear understanding of how it is structured as a system and how organisational decisions can impact patients of different populations: People living in more deprived areas remain sicker, die earlier and require more health care.
If we are to serve patients in disadvantaged and dispossessed communities, a different approach is needed. To be informed advocates, to forgo “learned helplessness”, and to lead in the health system we care so much about we first need to better understand it.