Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Austerity killing off people

Average life expectancy in England is currently 83 for women and 79.4 for men.

Austerity may be starting to affect how long we live in England, according to University College London expert Sir Michael Marmot,  a leading health expert. Life expectancy has been rising for decades, but the latest data shows the rate of increase has slowed. Marmot said he was "deeply concerned" by the situation, saying it was "entirely possible" austerity was affecting how long people live.

Using Office for National Statistics data, Sir Michael Marmot, who has advised both the government and World Health Organization, showed the rate of increase in life expectancy had nearly halved since 2010. Between 2000 and 2015, life expectancy at birth increased by one year every five years for women and by one year every 3.5 years for men. But this compares to one year every 10 years for women and one for every six for men post-2010.

Marmot , who is director of the Institute of Health Equity at UCL, said this showed the growth in life expectancy was "pretty close to having ground to a halt". He said that was "historically highly unusual" given the rising life expectancy seen over the past 100 years. "I am deeply concerned with the levelling off, I expected it to keep getting better." Hhe said it was "entirely possible" austerity had played a role. He explained social factors such as education, employment and working conditions and poverty all affected life expectancy by influencing lifestyles. And as austerity was placing pressures on these, they may in turn be influencing life expectancy.
He also highlighted what he said was "miserly" funding settlements for the NHS and social care, which meant the quality of life for older people would have deteriorated and could well affect their life expectancy. This was a particularly pressing issue given the numbers of people with dementia, although that increase in itself may also be playing a role in the levelling off.
He dismissed the idea that the slowing of life expectancy could be related to humans reaching the outer limit of how long they could live. He said other countries, such as Hong Kong, had longer life expectancy than England and had continued to see consistent rises.
Alzheimer's Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes said Sir Michael was right to point the finger of blame at austerity. "Too often we hear the consequences of inadequate, underfunded care - our investigation last year revealed people with dementia left in soiled sheets, becoming ill after eating out of date food, and ending up in costly hospital or care home admissions unnecessarily.

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