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Britain: Sleep walking into the valley of death

David Hencke photo
David HenckeLondon
Britain: Sleep walking into the valley of  death
Since the coalition in 2011 both the annual death rate and the number of deaths have increased reversing a trend lasting 50 years. And the growth in life expectancy is slowing. Is austerity to blame?

Britain is literally dying. Ever since the Tory and Liberal Democrat coalition came to power a 50 year improvement in the death rate year on year went into reverse. Whether it is the weather's toll on the elderly, more homelessness or the NHS failing to cope, something has happened and nobody either notices or wants to know.

The figures are not speculation. They are official and were published in a report from the House of Commons library just before Parliament came back after the Easter recess.

It is however remarkable that this abrupt change in trends has happened ever since successive governments committed themselves to austerity. The period also coincides with a huge attack on the welfare state - including cuts in working benefits and a £77 billion reduction in pension payments to 3.9 million women aged between 60 and 65 - soon to be 66 - which is known to have taken its toll.

What the figures show is that: Between 1961 and 2011 both the crude death rate( number of deaths per 1000 people) fell every year.

Since 2011, both the number of deaths and the crude death rate have increased. The number of deaths has increased more than the crude death rate, as some of the increase in the number of deaths was due to population growth.

Provisional figures on the number of weekly deaths indicate that winter mortality was higher than usual in early 2015, 2017 and 2018.

Improvements to life expectancy have slowed in recent years for both men and women, but estimates of life expectancy have not fallen compared with earlier periods.
Among the countries and regions of the UK, in the period 2014-16 life expectancy at birth and at age 65 was highest for women in London and for men in the South East. It was lowest for both women and men in Scotland.

This winter Theresa May presided over the largest number of deaths in recent years. The report reveals that during the first twelve weeks of 2018 the figure reached 154,684 and exceeded the 149,978 equivalent figure for 2015 - when it was known there was a serious winter flu epidemic.

This year's flu epidemic numbers have not been as great as 2015 but the overall death rate is higher.

The report also reveals that life expectancy is still going up - but at a much slower rate than previously predicted and there is a huge difference between those living in London and the South East and much of the rest of the country - with many of the lowest life expectancy in Scotland and the North. The difference between the metropolitan and the south and the North and Scotland is nearly 10 years.

Highest life expectancy for women ( between 86.8 and 86 years) is in Camden, Kensington and Chelsea, Hart,Westminster and Chiltern ( Chesham in Buckinghamshire).

Lowest life expectancy for women ( between 78.7 and 79.6) is in West Dumbartonshire, Glasgow, Manchester, Blackpool, Middlesbrough, North Lanarkshire and Dundee.

For men the highest rates ( from 83.7 to 82.5) are Kensington and Chelsea,East Dorset, Chiltern, Hart and Harrow.

The lowest rates for men ( from 73.4 to 75.4) are Glasgow, Blackpool, Dundee, West Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire).

This disclosure suggests that since 2011 the country has been going into reverse and I don't believe this is a coincidence. Nasty sharp government policies are literally taking their toll.

#death, #life expectancy, #austerity, #north south divide, #flu epidemic

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