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Equity in health care

11 January 2024
Volume 33 · Issue 1

Equity in health care, defined as equal opportunity for all individuals to achieve their full health potential, regardless of their diverse socio-economic and demographic circumstances, remains an ideal yet to be fully realised in the UK. As healthcare providers who are intimately involved in patient care, nurses are at the frontline of this struggle for healthcare equity.

Socio-economic disparities are one of the most fundamental challenges to healthcare equity, encapsulated by the concept of the social determinants of health. This term refers to aspects of an individual's life such as income, level of education and employment, which all influence health outcomes. Unfortunately, those from lower socio-economic backgrounds often face barriers to healthcare access, contributing to health inequities (Marmot, 2020). This issue presents a substantial challenge for nurses. They witness first hand the impact of these socio-economic barriers, which affect patients' ability to access timely healthcare services and follow through with prescribed treatments, thereby affecting overall health outcomes.

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