People in the poorest regions of Scotland are more likely to be affected by severe Covid-19 – and die from the disease – than those in richer districts, according to a study on critical care units. The study is published in The Lancet Regional Health – Europe and was carried out in collaboration with the Scottish Review Group of the Scottish Intensive Care Unit.
The first nationwide study found that patients from the most economically disadvantaged regions had a higher chance of receiving critical care care, and that intensive care unit was more likely to exceed capacity.
Researchers say the study highlights the need for additional support to critical care units in poorer regions, and more to do for health inequalities.
Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow measured how living in an area of socio-economic poverty – as measured by the Scottish Index of Deprivation – was linked to severe Covid-19 via anonymous health records.
They also accessed hospital data to assess the impact of the pandemic on critical care units in all hospitals in Scotland.
They found that 735 patients with Covid-19 were admitted to critical care units across Scotland between March and June 2020. Of those, about a quarter of entries were from the poorest quintile compared to 13 per cent of the poor quintile.
Death rates after 30 days were significantly higher in patients from the poorest places in Scotland compared to the poorest people, after taking into account other factors such as age and gender.
Hospitals in the poorest health administration regions also had a higher need for intensive care beds, and operated longer than their normal capacity.
Doctors say the findings highlight the need for greater resources in these areas to treat coronavirus.
Lead researcher Dr Nazir Lone, Chief Clinical Lecturer on Critical Care at the University of Edinburgh and Honorary Consultant on Critical Care at NHS Lothian, said, “Many factors could cause this link between poverty and severe illness, including poor housing, use of public transportation and financial pressures to keep it running. The poorest communities and the hospitals that serve them will need extra support as the pandemic continues. “
Dr Joanne McPeake, co-author of the University of Glasgow study, said: “As we go through this pandemic, it is increasingly important to understand how this virus affects different groups so that informed decisions can be made about mitigating risks. These data will help inform how we support different communities both in the short and long term, to properly ensure that socioeconomic inequalities do not worsen further. ”
(This story was published by a wireless agency without modifications to the text. Only the headline was changed.)
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