“I am still paying for it. Every time I pay it is a reminder”
“I am still paying for it. Every time I pay it is a reminder”
As angry demonstrators take to the streets to highlight the effects of cuts to vital services across the county research has highlighted how the Conservative government’s health policy is now lead to a significant increase in in mortality rates. (17th Feb 2017)
An unprecedented rise in mortality in England and Wales, where 30,000 excess deaths occurred in 2015, is likely to be linked to cuts to the NHS and social care, according to research which has drawn an angry response from the government.
The highly charged claim is made by researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Oxford University and Blackburn with Darwen council, who say the increase in mortality took place against a backdrop of “severe cuts” to the NHS and social care, compromising their performance.
(The report can be accessed here: Why has mortality in England and Wales been increasing? An iterative demographic analysis.)
The Department of Health (DH) responded by accusing the authors of the paper and accompanying commentary, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine on Thursday, of “bias”.
Soaring numbers of grieving families are being forced to give their loved-ones Dickensian-style ‘pauper’s funerals’ because they cannot afford basic burial costs.
Damning new stats show the number of taxpayer-funded pauper’s funerals has rocketed almost 50% since the Tories came to power.
A pauper’s funeral – now re-branded a ‘Public Health Funeral’ – was seen as the ultimate indignity in Victorian times, funded by the local authority when cash-strapped friends and family could not afford a proper service. The deceased is usually given a simple early-morning service before being cremated or buried in a communal grave.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show a 47% increase in pauper’s funerals between 2011 and 2015, from 1,769 to 2,609.
And the true number will be far higher, as only 200 of the 393 councils nationwide provided data.
Researchers exploring why there has been a substantial increase in mortality in England and Wales in 2015 conclude that failures in the health and social care system linked to disinvestment are likely to be the main cause.
There were 30,000 excess deaths in 2015, representing the largest increase in deaths in the post-war period. The excess deaths, which included a large spike in January that year, were largely in the older population who are most dependent on health and social care.
Reporting their analysis in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, the researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, University of Oxford and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, tested four possible explanations for the January 2015 spike in mortality.
After ruling out data errors, cold weather and flu as main causes for the spike, the researchers found that NHS performance data revealed clear evidence of health system failures. Almost all targets were missed including ambulance call-out times and A&E waiting times, despite unexceptional A&E attendances compared to the same month in previous years. Staff absence rates rose and more posts remained empty as staff had not been appointed.
Professor Martin McKee, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “The impact of cuts resulting from the imposition of austerity on the NHS has been profound. Expenditure has failed to keep pace with demand and the situation has been exacerbated by dramatic reductions in the welfare budget of £16.7 billion and in social care spending.”
He added: “With an aging population, the NHS is ever more dependent on a well-functioning social care system. Yet social care has also faced severe cuts, with a 17% decrease in spending for older people since 2009, while the number of people aged 85 years and over has increased by 9%.”
“To maintain current levels of social care would require an extra £1.1 billion, which the government has refused.”
Professor McKee continued: “The possibility that the cuts to health and social care are implicated in almost 30,000 excess deaths is one that needs further exploration. Given the relentless nature of the cuts, and potential link to rising mortality, we ask why is the search for a cause not being pursued with more urgency?”
“Simply reorganising and consolidating existing urgent care systems or raising the ‘agility’ of the current A&E workforce capacity is unlikely to be sufficient to meet the challenges that high levels of admissions of frail elderly people and others who are vulnerable are likely to present this winter and in future winters.”
The researchers say that there are already worrying signs of an increase in mortality in 2016. Without urgent intervention, they say, there must be concern that this trend will continue.
Commenting on the analysis, Professor Danny Dorling, University of Oxford, added: “It may sound obvious that more elderly people will have died earlier as a result of government cut backs, but to date the number of deaths has not been estimated and the government have not admitted responsibility.”
About 100 activists and their allies have taken part in a protest and vigil to mark the death of a disabled man who died minutes after leaving a jobcentre… six months after a government contractor found him “fit for work”.
Lawrence Bond is said to have collapsed on the pavement shortly after leaving Kentish Town jobcentre, following a back-to-work appointment.
By John Pring Disability News Service 26th January 2017
A disabled campaigner has told MPs that he believes cuts to support have contributed to a quarter of his neighbours in the sheltered housing development where he lives dying in just one year.
Larry Gardiner told the communities and local government select committee this week, as part of its inquiry into adult social care, that five of his neighbours had died in the last year.
He said that to lose so many neighbours in such a short period of time was “absolutely unprecedented”.
He said: “Some of those deaths were expected and anticipated… but there were others which I think were premature, unexpected and for which there should be an investigation, and there hasn’t been.”
Lawrence Bond, 56, who had multiple health problems, died in the street after leaving the Jobcentre in Kentish Town Road, Kentish Town, two weeks ago.
Around 50 people were outside the centre, alongside Mr Loach and shadow chancellor John McDonnell, yesterday afternoon to mark his passing.
Mr Bond was ruled “fit to work” in July and his incapacity benefit – now known as Employment Support Allowance – was cut. He was awaiting the outcome of an appeal at the time of his death.
Asked if he recognised comparisons that had been made to the eponymous character Daniel Blake, who dies while attending a review of his fit-to-work ruling, Mr Loach told the New Journal: “Absolutely. He was a man of similar age, he was a man who has worked almost all his life. It’s absolutely comparable and it’s a monstrous injustice and the government should be driven from office. If they don’t know what they’re doing, they’re not competent. If they do know, they’re not fit.”
The newly-appointed shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, Debbie Abrahams MP, was also at the vigil organised by Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group and WinVisible disabled women’s group. The crowd called for an end to cuts to the welfare budget and chanted “we are all Lawrence Bond”.