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Book: Northern Exposure – exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the north of England

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Book: Northern Exposure – which analyses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the north of England

Northern Exposure is free to download. Please follow the link at the end of this summary.

Quick-read summary

 Northern Exposure has been written by academics with expertise in health inequalities. It looks at how different areas of England experienced the COVID-19 pandemic and explains why areas in the North felt the impact more.

Who is this evidence useful for?

Policy makers in central government, local government, and anyone with an interest in public health or health inequalities.

What is the issue

Before COVID-19, people in some areas of England were already struggling with health issues because of where they lived. When the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, these areas had noticeably higher levels of COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths. This book looks at how and where you live makes a difference to your health – with a focus on the impact of COVID-19. It also looks at the impact of ‘wealth’ – which in this context means how well an area (and the people who live in it) are doing, economically. This includes things like where and how you’re employed, the uncertainty you might have in your job, what you earn, and if you’re protected if you can’t work due to illness


Northern Exposurewritten by Professor Clare Bambra and Dr Natalie Bennett of Newcastle University and Dr Luke Munford and Sam Khavandi of the University of Manchester, builds on reports the authors produced with the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) over the course of the pandemic.

What the research found

  • Around 2,500 deaths could have been prevented if ‘Levelling Up’ of the North had occurred pre-pandemic.
  • The average COVID-19 mortality rate during the first 13 months of the pandemic was 17% higher in the North – with around 30 more deaths per 100,000 people.
  • Rates of long COVID are 30% higher in the North than in the rest of the country.
  • Hospital pressure was 10% greater in the North, and experienced larger reductions in elective, inpatient, emergency inpatient and outpatient procedures.
  • People from minority ethnic backgrounds, women and younger people experienced greater declines in mental health during the pandemic. People in these groups in the North had worse mental health scores than those in the rest of England

Why is this important?

It explains why it is important that the Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ agenda considers health inequalities as well as economic inequalities. It explains why it is important to have a healthy population if you want to create a healthy economy.

Download Northern Exposure – Northern Exposure (oapen.org)