Research has revealed the reality that premature deaths in the UK are growing, with more than one million premature deaths recorded in the last decade. Many have criticised the Conservatives for this failure, saying they need to do more to help the health of those in deprived areas. Here’s the full story.
Shocking Figures Unveiled by Leading Public Health Expert
The Institute of Health Equity at University College London, under the leadership of Sir Michael Marmot, has exposed the truth about premature death in the UK over the last decade.
The research conducted by Prof Peter Goldblatt revealed that more than 1 million people in England died prematurely in the decade after 2011, which he puts down to poverty, austerity measures, and the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The study, titled “Health Inequalities, Lives Cut Short,” looked at data from the Office for National Statistics to scrutinise the life expectancy of individuals residing outside the wealthiest 10% of areas. Between 2011 and 2019, an alarming 1,062,334 people faced premature deaths compared to those in the most affluent areas.
A further blow was dealt in 2020, with an additional 151,615 premature deaths recorded, of which 148,000 were directly linked to austerity measures implemented by the coalition government in 2010.
Marmot’s “Dismal” Assessment and Urgent Call for Action
Sir Michael Marmot, a leading figure in public health, expressed deep concern over the “dismal state of affairs.” He suggested the urgent need for political leaders to address the higher risks faced by poorer communities, asserting that their vulnerability to illnesses rooted in poverty, substandard housing, and unemployment was exacerbating health inequalities.
Marmot said, “One million premature deaths, made dramatically worse by austerity, is a shocking political failure. The worse health of the more deprived 90% of the population, compared to the best-off 10%, means that health inequalities involve the majority of society.”
Marmot went on to criticise the UK further, “If you needed a case study example of what not to do to reduce health inequalities, the UK provides it. The only other developed country doing worse is the USA, where life expectancy is falling.”
Marmot also declared that political leaders in the country need to do more, “Our country has become poor and unhealthy, where a few rich, healthy people live. People care about their health, but it is deteriorating, with their lives shortening, through no fault of their own. Political leaders can choose to prioritise everyone’s health, or not. Currently they are not.”
Impact of Deprivation on Cancer and Life Expectancy
Cancer Research UK estimates an astonishing 33,000 additional cancer cases annually associated with socioeconomic disadvantage. Furthermore, women from England’s most impoverished areas experienced a five-year reduction in life expectancy compared to their wealthier counterparts.
The pandemic further exacerbated these disparities, as black and Asian populations faced higher risks of COVID-19 mortality than their white counterparts.
Previous research unveiled positive trends during Labour governments (1997-2010), focusing on early years and education, resulting in declining health inequalities. However, the implementation of austerity measures post-2010 led to a reversal of progress, a finding reinforced by the 2020 Marmot Review.
The review found a stall in life expectancy improvements, particularly in the most deprived areas. The pandemic served as a catalyst, further widening inequalities and contributing to 28,000 excess deaths between the least and most disadvantaged areas.
Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, not only outlined the challenges but also presented Labour’s commitment to building a fairer Britain where everyone lives well for longer.
Streeting criticised the Conservative policies over 14 years, “Where you are born, and the circumstances you are born into, shouldn’t decide how long you will live.” This mission, he asserted, would be the responsibility of the next Labour government.
Marmot’s Plea for Action and Social Determinants Focus
Sir Michael Marmot urged leaders to prioritize social determinants of health. He spoke of the need to cease policies harming health and widening inequalities.
Marmot’s plea extended to Members of Parliament, urging them to be appalled by the deteriorating health of their constituents. In his words, “I’m saying to party leaders: make this the central plank of the next government – stop policies harming health and widening health inequalities. To MPs: if you care about the health of your constituents, you must be appalled by their deteriorating health.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson acknowledged the commitment to addressing inequalities, “We are committed to tackling inequalities in outcomes, experiences and access to healthcare across the NHS.
This is a key focus of the NHS long-term plan, under which NHS England has commissioned five new cancer clinical audits to reduce unwarranted variation in treatments and outcomes for patients,” they said.
The post Conservatives Slammed for Ignoring Deprived Areas Resulting in Number of Premature Deaths Rising in the UK first appeared on Edge Media.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / RMC42.