A MAP revealing which parts of Oxford have lost the most people to coronavirus is a 'deeply concerning' and 'sombre mirror' to health inequalities created by deprivation, according to the city's MPs.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) interactive data includes all deaths where Covid-19 deaths was the underlying cause, or was mentioned on the death certificate as a contributory factor, in March, April and May.

Also read: Deprivation figures for Oxford show city 'of two halves'

In Oxford, Cowley South and Iffley had the most deaths of the city's 18 areas, with 11 people dying with the virus.

Rose Hill & Iffley is the third most deprived area in Oxfordshire, as measured by the Index of Multiple Deprivation based on factors such as income, employment, health, education, crime, the living environment and access to housing within an area.


Oxford's Index of Multiple Deprivation map, with darker blue indicating the most deprived areas

Greater Leys, which has recorded eight deaths, contains Northfield Brook, the county's most deprived area and where an investigation last year revealed men on average die 15 years younger than their counterparts living in the city's more affluent areas.

Osney, Jericho & Port Meadow, meanwhile, which contain some of the least deprived areas, have recorded a single death.

It is not a perfect predictor, however, with Summertown – which has parts ranked in the 10 per cent least deprived areas of England – recording five deaths, and the location of care homes almost certainly playing a role in the distribution of deaths.

However the trend is replicated across England, with the rate of deaths related to Covid-19 in the most deprived areas 128.3 per 100,000, more than double that in the most affluent parts of the nation.

Public Health England's Disparity Review, released this month, also found mortality rates from Covid-19 in the most deprived areas were more than double the least deprived areas, for both males and females – even greater than the inequality seen in mortality rates in previous years.


Ansaf Azhar, Director of Public Health

Health inequality is the focus of Oxfordshire's annual health report, published this week by Ansaf Azhar, the county's director of public health.

In the introduction he wrote: "Oxfordshire is a prosperous and affluent place to live. However, it also hides significant health and social inequalities across the county. The most recent data also indicates this is getting worse."

He said there are 10 wards in Oxfordshire which fall within the 20 per cent most deprived wards in England.

Also read: Life expectancy gap between Oxford's richest and poorest residents widens to 15 years

In an article for the Oxford Mail on page 12 of today's paper, Mr Azhar said that, though the report was produced before the pandemic, it had 'served to magnify the stark health inequalities' in the county.

He added: "There can be no question that the virus has replicated these existing health inequalities, disproportionately affecting our most vulnerable communities.

"As the recent Public Health England report has shown, the risk of exposure to the virus and of suffering more severe outcomes is higher for those living in more deprived areas."

Other areas with high death tolls in the county include Chipping Norton with 24, Witney East with 25 and Abingdon Town & West with 20.

Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds described the ONS findings as 'deeply worrying' adding: "It is already clear that coronavirus is having a disproportionate impact on certain communities, especially those which are more deprived and on black and minority ethnic people, and it is crucial that the government urgently takes steps to address this."


Anneliese Dodds

Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran echoed this, saying: "This data holds up a sombre mirror to our society, where some of the poorest and most vulnerable in our local community have borne the brunt of the suffering under coronavirus.

“The average life expectancy for a man living in Carfax in Oxford is 15 years lower than in the county’s least deprived ward. That’s shocking. We have known about the impact of health and other inequalities for such a long time and yet we haven’t taken the preventative action needed."

She said there 'no turning back' from the pandemic and 'a new deal' was needed for communities that tackles inequalities 'at their source'.


Layla Moran

The Lib Dem MP added: "That’s why I’m calling for the introduction of measures including a Universal Basic Income, greater investment in our public services and the prioritisation of sustainable transport infrastructure to make leading healthier lives easier for many.”

Councillor Marie Tidball, city council Cabinet member for supporting local communities, said: “The ONS data highlights the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on poorer communities.

"Each death is an individual tragedy, and for the most deprived communities there is an added injustice in how they are affected. 

"We already know there is a disproportionate impact on the BAME community, who are more likely to face deprivation, and later this month the ONS will publish information on the impact on people with disabilities who are also more likely to be financially and socially excluded."

She said the council had seen 'surge' in the number of people needing support to get through lockdown, and this had been highest in the most deprived areas.

thisisoxfordshire: Councillor Marie TidballCouncillor Marie Tidball

The councillor added: "We rapidly implemented emergency support, and are now providing around 1,000 food parcels per week which provide nutritious food for people in need.

"Our finance team is helping people in hardship manage benefits and payments so that their money can go on family essentials.

"We’ve partnered with organisations across Oxford who are helping people, from Oxford Hub with their thousands of volunteers, to religious and community groups who already support those most in need."

She said the authority was also working on the bigger issues that 'underpin' health inequalities and funded along with the county council, the NHS and other services programmes in the most deprived areas in everything from exercise and healthy habits to food banks and improving young people's opportunities to gain qualifications and work experience.

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She added: "Last year’s national report on the Indices of Deprivation showed that these have begun to improve outcomes, and the work we have done contributes to that.

"Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go and we are committed to tackling the complex and long-term issues that underpin poor health outcomes and working with other partners to do so too.”

A government spokeswoman said: “The Government is working to understand the key drivers of disparities in infection and death rates, and the relationships between the different risk factors.

“We are taking forward the work of Public Health England’s recent Disparity Review, which will help us make a real difference to people’s lives and protect our communities from the impact of the coronavirus.”