Sunday, August 13, 2017

Bad Health - Blame Capitalism

Poor people face years of failing health and earlier death compared to the rich, despite government pledges to reduce inequality. The health gap between rich and poor is growing in England, according to new figures compiled by the Department of Health.

Those living in the most deprived areas of the country run a greater risk of premature death, seeing a child die soon after it is born, and of ending up in hospital as an emergency case. 

Seven years ago life expectancy for men in England’s most deprived areas was 9.1 years less than for those in the richest areas. By 2015 the figure had risen to 9.2 years. The equivalent gap for poor women also grew over that time, from 6.8 years to 7.1 years.

David Buck, a senior fellow at the King’s Fund health thinktank and a leading expert in public health and health inequalities told the Observer: “These are shocking figures. It’s shocking that we live in a developed country where inequalities in health are so wide and are getting worse. For the poorest in the country this is a double whammy of early death and poorer health while still alive. They are going to die younger and are facing 20 more years of life spent in poor health relative to the richest..."
The gap between rich and poor in relation to “healthy life expectancy” – defined as a life free of disease or disability – has recently widened to almost 20 years. Poorer people’s access to GP services is also getting worse, as is their experience of care received at GP surgeries.
 Last week a University of Manchester study revealed that people living in the north of England were 20% more likely to die before the age of 75 than those living in the south.
Tom Cottam, policy manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, voiced dismay at the “inexcusable” socio-economic gap in the risk of dying from the disease. “Your chances of dying of cancer should not depend on where you live or your background, so the fact that there is a growing difference between the least and most deprived groups is a serious concern.” 
Professor Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said government policies had contributed to widening health inequalities. “Health in infancy and childhood sets the scene for lifelong health, so we view with dismay data from the Department of Health showing that inequality in infant mortality has widened. In the UK – one of the richest countries in the world – the gap between rich and poor is growing and the problem starts in infancy.
“These new data provide further evidence that current policies are not merely failing to tackle health, but are making matters worse... perverse fragmentation of healthcare, growing diversion of funds into for-profit providers, and seemingly deliberate alienation of the health workforce, have been plain to see in recent months. There has been a failure to tackle the scandal of junk food, curb air pollution, and deliver preventive healthcare.”

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