Tackling health inequalities

Root cause analysis and collaborative planning is key in addressing health inequalities argues Abhinav Kokilagadda

Abhinav Kokilagadda
Abhinav Kokilagadda is clinical lead physio and team manager of the community adult learning disabilities team at Stopford House in Stockport

We live in the 21st century, in a highly developed nation with the world’s best health care system. Yet, we’re still struggling to address the systemic differences in accessing health care which can be avoidable with systematic action. These discrepancies of equity in accessing healthcare are alarmingly high specifically in people with intellectual disabilities and autism. 

As a clinical lead physiotherapist working in a community learning disabilities team, I interact and supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students during their clinical placement.

I’m surprised to realise that students with strong theoretical and clinical skills are often naive about the health inequalities that many service users experience. 

Every individual, irrespective of who they are, has every right to access the health care they deserve during their lifetime. This motivated me to reflect on how I could contribute my share of moral, professional and social responsibility to address the issue; which is when I began to pursue advanced clinical practice in learning disabilities and autism. In my 20 years of working in learning disabilities both in the private and the public sectors, as a clinician and CQC registered manager, I’ve recognised that health inequalities in this population are increasing. 

Evidence suggests that this increasing rate of inequalities is going to widen due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic specifically in this vulnerable group. Urgent action with a systematic approach in addressing these inequalities to provide equitable access to health care is imperative. 

As clinicians we need to focus on analysing root causes to inequality and focus on the education of both stakeholders and colleagues outside of the learning disability teams. This can be achieved by collaborative working and addressing barriers to access services more equitably in a timely manner. We can improve the uptake of health equity by improving the quality of life during the lived years of people using our services. 

I humbly second what Dr Martin Luther King Jr declared in 1966,

… of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.  

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