Several Gypsy and Irish Travellers in South Tyneside have poor health

Caravans are parked up on the illegal side of the Dale Farm travellers site following the completion of clearance works by Basildon Council in Crays Hill in Essex.Caravans are parked up on the illegal side of the Dale Farm travellers site following the completion of clearance works by Basildon Council in Crays Hill in Essex.
Caravans are parked up on the illegal side of the Dale Farm travellers site following the completion of clearance works by Basildon Council in Crays Hill in Essex.
Several Gypsy and Irish Travellers in South Tyneside reported having bad or very bad health, new figures show – as the census reveals significant health inequality across England and Wales.

Several Gypsy and Irish Travellers in South Tyneside reported having bad or very bad health, new figures show – as the census reveals significant health inequality across England and Wales.

The national charity Friends, Families and Travellers said trends across England and Wales where Gypsy and Irish Travellers are more than twice as likely to report poor health are a testament to "chronic exclusions" of the community from health care settings.

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Figures from the Office for National Statistics show 54 people in South Tyneside said they were Gypsy or Irish Traveller in the 2021 Census. Of them, eight said they had bad or very bad health – a significant proportion of the cohort.

Meanwhile, 8% of the total population in the area reported poor health.

Across England and Wales, 12.5% of those who identified as Gypsy or Irish Travellers reported having bad or very bad health compared to 5.2% of the overall population.

A spokesperson from Friends, Families and Travellers said: "Chronic exclusion from health and social care settings means that Romany Gypsy and Irish Traveller people experience the poorest health outcomes in the UK, and these findings are testament to that.

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"Behind the numbers, there are generations of Gypsy and Traveller families grappling with a significantly reduced quality of life as poor health has a knock-on effect on education, employment and social opportunities.

"Health and social care providers must do more to ensure services are inclusive and able to support the needs of Gypsy and Traveller families."

Most people who identified as Gypsy or Irish Travellers reported being in good or very good health (72.3%). However, this percentage was lower than for the England and Wales population (82.0%).

The ONS said that while health is related to age – with younger people more likely to report better health – those who identified as Gypsy or Irish Traveller had a younger age profile than the general population. Therefore, poorer health of this group cannot be explained by age.

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In South Tyneside, 35 Gypsy or Irish Travellers said they were in good or very good health while 11 were in fair health.

A government spokesperson said: "We are committed to levelling up the health of the nation so everyone can live longer, healthier lives, regardless of their location or background and we have always prioritised the NHS by backing it with the funding it needs."

They added £10 million will be provided to improve Traveller sites and provide people in the community with easier access to healthcare and education.

"Our Major Conditions Strategy will tackle the risk factors that lead to health disparities among different communities – including Gypsy and Traveller communities," they said.