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Austerity in England linked to more than 50,000 extra deaths in five years

Austerity

Austerity in England linked to more than 50,000 extra deaths in five years

Austerity cuts to the NHS, public health and social care have killed tens of thousands more people in England than expected, according to the largest study of its kind.

Researchers who analysed the joint impact of cuts to healthcare, public health and social care since 2010 found that even in just the following four years the spending squeeze was linked with 57,550 more deaths than would have been expected. The findings, worse than previously thought, were revealed in the journal BMJ Open.

The research by the University of York also found that a slowdown in life expectancy improvement coincided with the government’s sharp cuts to health and social care funding after David Cameron came to power a decade ago.

“Restrictions on the growth in health and social care expenditure during ‘austerity’ have been associated with tens of thousands more deaths than would have been observed had pre-austerity expenditure growth been sustained,” said Prof Karl Claxton of the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York.

“Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that the slowdown in the rate of improvement in life expectancy in England and Wales since 2010 is attributable to spending constraints in the healthcare and social care sectors.”

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, described the findings as shocking and said they were proof that the government’s austerity drive had deepened health inequalities across the country.

“This is a devastating verdict on a decade of Tory austerity in healthcare,” he said. “The test of ‘levelling up’ will be ministers properly funding social care and public health to now tackle these inequalities.”

Separate research by Imperial College London, published in the Lancet Public Health journal, found life expectancy in many communities in England was falling even before the pandemic.

While life expectancy rose in most places during the first decade of the millennium, from 2010 in some areas it started to decline. By 2014 that deterioration had accelerated, researchers discovered, with life expectancy falling for women in almost one in five communities (18.7%), and for men in one in nine places (11.5%).

The worst-hit areas were typically in urban areas in the north. They include Blackpool, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.

Researchers have made various attempts at calculating the true impact of the austerity measures led by Cameron. But the University of York study is the first to jointly analyse the effect of the significant slowdown in NHS, public health and social care spending on death rates in England.

Researchers said real social care spending rose by 2.2% per capita of the population between 2001-02 and 2009-10, but fell by 1.57% between 2010-11 and 2014-15. The loss of social care funding caused 23,662 additional deaths, according to the findings.

Real healthcare spend per capita rose by 3.82% between 2001-02 and 2009-10, but only by 0.41% between 2010-11 and 2014-15. The cuts to healthcare spending between 2010-11 and 2014-15 led to 33,888 extra deaths, the researchers calculated.

In total, the study suggested the constraints on health and social care spending during this period of austerity have been associated with 57,550 more deaths up to 2014 than would have been expected if funding had stayed at pre-2010 levels.

David Finch, an assistant director of healthy lives at the Health Foundation thinktank, said the study showed why ministers must now put health at the “front and centre” of their levelling-up agenda.

Even before Covid, he said, there was “an extremely concerning pattern of stalling life expectancy, particularly in the poorest areas of the country”. The pandemic had “since laid bare the tragic consequences of underlying poor health”, he said.

“As we plan the pandemic recovery, there is an urgent need to ensure that we don’t repeat mistakes made during the recovery from the financial crisis. This includes tackling the backlog of NHS care and fixing social care, but also providing security for the many families that are struggling financially. Policies such as the cut to universal credit run counter to this objective,” Finch said.

“To meet the scale of this challenge, government needs to put improving health at the front and centre of all major policies, including levelling up. This will require action on everything from housing and employment to education and transport.”

Boris Johnson last month pledged a £12bn-a-year cash injection to help the NHS catch up after the pandemic and to overhaul social care. Household budgets will take a hit from next April when employees’ national insurance contributions will rise by 1.25% to pay for the funding boost.

The Department of Health and Social Care has been approached for comment.

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Health

12 State Governors Owing Us, Health Workers Cry Out

The Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria MHWUN, has cried out that governors of 12 states of Nigeria are unfair to their members by owing them several years of salary arrears and also failed to standardise their payments .

The medical body noted that the worst of it all is that these governors have failed to implement the N30,000 new minimum wage that has become a law in the country.

They said the governors have subjected them to harrowing life.

The MHWUN National Vice President , Femi Adebisi stated this in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital at the weekend during the 2022 international youth day organized by the South West leadership of the union, under the theme , ‘Intergenerational solidarity : creating a world for all ages.’

Adebisi said the welfare of health workers remains the only recipe to the recurrent brain drain crippling the health sector.

He however, did not identify the affected 12 states.

“We have nothing less than 12 states that are owing health workers their entitlements.We are engaging them as a union and we are hoping the governors and everyone concern will do the needful soon”, he stated.

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Health

Pay Hazard Allowance To Health Workers, NLC Urges F.G

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr Ayuba Wabba, has urged the Federal Government to immediately begin the payment of hazard allowance to health workers in the country.

Wabba made the call at the 2022 annual Federal Capital Territory Nurses Week/Scientific Workshop of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives on Thursday in Abuja.

At the workshop with the theme, “Invest in Nursing and respect rights to secure global health,” Wabba said the allowance has been reviewed but payment is yet to begin.

“Many health workers have fallen victim to diseases in taking care of patients. I salute the nurses and Midwives, your reward is not only in heaven but here on earth. I urge you to learn so you can discharge quality healthcare service to Nigerians.

“The payment of hazard allowance will boost the morale of our health workers in the country”, he added.

 

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Health

Cholera Outbreak Kills 10 In Gombe

Gombe state government has declared an outbreak of cholera after ten deaths were recorded across the state.

This was made public by Habu Dahiru, Gombe commissioner for health,  on Thursday.

Dahiru, who was represented by Abdulrahman Shuaibu, executive secretary of the Gombe Primary Health Care Development Agency, said as of September 20, 236 cases of cholera had been recorded in the state.

“This year, from June, we had sporadic cases of cholera in Balanga LGA and because of the preparedness and prompt response; it has been largely subdued without escalation,” he said.

These outbreaks are recorded in eight wards across Balanga, Yamaltu-Deba, Nafada, Funakaye and Gombe LGA of the state.

“The state ministry of health has promptly initiated public health actions for prevention and control of the disease.

“As of September 20, there was an increase in the number of cases in Gombe state as 236 cases have been listed so far.”

The commissioner said increased downpour of rain and flooding in many parts of the state led to the cholera outbreak.

He said decontamination of wells and boreholes in affected communities would be carried out and distribution of water treatment tablets in all affected communities would be conducted.

 

 

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