Poor Housing Conditions Cost the NHS Atleast £600m Per Year

Housing conditions have a profound impact on public health and unfortunately this has been neglected for many decades. A house is important for many aspects of healthy living and well being and something that has been highlighted by the pandemic in the last year where we have been forced to spend prolong period of time in our homes.

A great many people in social housing have been forced to shelter in poor quality, inadequate and overcrowded properties. While attempting to avoid one pandemic there is the very very real risk of another health pandemic caused by people spending prolonged periods of time in poor quality housing. The home has always been the place where people spend the majority of their time, in the last year it’s been the place where people have spent almost all of their time.

At the moment rarely a day goes by without the news reporting comments by the World Health Organisation on the current pandemic. To the point where you would think this is all that they are involved in. The WHO however have long since pointed out that inadequate housing conditions cause or contributed to many preventible diseases and injuries including respiratory, nervous system and cardiovascular diseases and indeed cancer. They estimate that for 11 housing hazards related to noise, damp, indoor air quality, cold and home safety they account for more than a 100,000 deaths per year in Europe alone. They list how proper building materials and adequate ventilation can prevent indoor pollution and mould that can lead to asthma allergies or respiratory diseases.

The government themselves and estimated that poor housing conditions have a detrimental impact on health and actually cost the NHS at least 600 million pounds per year.

The pandemic has been a great leveller and one we are hopefully going to start moving out of soon, with the mass roll out of vaccinations. It also highlighted huge inequalities in this country and there is no doubt that those in poor quality social housing have suffered to a significantly greater degree than those of us lucky enough to have good quality housing.

Housing is particularly important in ensuring a healthy start in life. Children are particularly affected by living in poor quality housing and children living in cold overcrowded or unsafe housing are more likely to be bullied, to have longstanding health problems, disabilities or infirmities. They are twice as likely to develop respiratory problems as those in warm homes or suffer from mental health difficulties.

The homes act mentioned in an earlier blog (here) is a good step forward in helping to address the problems in social housing and help this country and as we move out of the pandemic. These inequalities must be addressed or the health and welfare of a significant proportion of the population will continue to suffer even after the rest of us start to put the pandemic behind us.

This blog post was inspired by the recent article on The Guardian here: https://www.theguardian.com/society-professionals/2014/aug/08/housing-problems-affect-health

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