New analysis links 30,000 excess deaths in 2015 to cuts in health and social care

From the Royal Society of Medicine

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.”

read more here: https://www.rsm.ac.uk/about-us/media-information/2017-media-releases/new-analysis-links-30000-excess-deaths-in-2015-to-cuts-in-health-and-social-care.aspx

Coroner orders inquest into ‘fit for work’ man who collapsed after leaving jobcentre

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.

read more here: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/coroner-orders-inquest-into-fit-for-work-man-who-collapsed-after-leaving-jobcentre/?

Cuts to support killed my neighbours,’ MPs are told

DNS

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.”

read more here: http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2017/01/26/cuts-to-support-killed-my-neighbours-mps-are-told/

I, Daniel Blake director Ken Loach appears at vigil for ‘fit to rule’ man who died on way home from job centre

AWARD-winning film director Ken Loach appeared at a vigil yesterday (Wednesday) for a man ruled “fit for work” who died from a heart attack on his way home from a Jobcentre. And he likened the case to the desperate central character in his campaigning film I, Daniel Blake.

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”.

read more here: http://www.camdennewjournal.com/ken-loach-i-daniel-blake-kentish-town

UK has ‘stark inequalities in child health’, report says

Child health in the UK is falling behind that of many other European countries, a major report says.

It raises particular concerns over rates of obesity, mental health issues and mortality among the young.

The in-depth report, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, emphasised that poverty was at the root of many child health problems.

UK health ministers said money was being invested in services to help tackle health inequalities.

The report looked at 25 health indicators, including asthma, diabetes and epilepsy, as well as obesity, breastfeeding and mortality, to provide a snapshot of children’s health and wellbeing.

It said there had been huge improvements in child health in the UK in the past 100 years, but since the mid-1990s “there has been a slowing of progress”. This has left the UK falling behind other European nations in a number of league tables.

For example, in 2014 the UK had a higher infant mortality rate (of 3.9 per 1,000 live births) than nearly all comparable Western European countries.

Infant mortality ranges from 3.6 in Scotland to 3.9 in England and Wales, and 4.8 in Northern Ireland.

read more here: http://linkis.com/www.bbc.co.uk/news/oQl4L

Man spends last day alive at a Jobcentre being told he’s ‘fit to work’. He dies on the way home

A man collapsed and died in the street on the way home from the Jobcentre on 12 December. He had been declared ‘fit for work’.

Lawrence Bond suffered a fatal heart attack shortly after leaving the Kentish town Jobcentre, reports The Camden New Journal. The 56-year-old had longstanding health problems such as difficulty with mobility and breathing.

Last year, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) cut Bond’s Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). This happened after US private firm Maximus carried out his Work Capability Assessment (WCA) in July. The DWP turned down a subsequent appeal. His sister, Iris Green, said that Bond was waiting for the outcome of a second appeal when he died.

Bond’s situation

Bond had suffered prolonged health problems, associated with being heavily overweight. But in turn, his obesity may have been linked to his mental health problems.

Green said she thought he “suffered from anxiety all his life”. She said things got worse after he lost his last long-term job two years ago, and “his weight and unfitness made him unemployable”.

She continued:

[he] held down regular jobs and was never out of work from the age of 16 when he trained as a car mechanic, then did computer studies and went to companies fixing computers, photocopiers, cash tills – so he had his van which he felt safe in – but, of course, his diet was shocking so he put on weight.

Bond was distressed about a lack of treatment for his mental health issues, his sister said:

His anxiety was getting worse as he could not pay bills and was afraid to leave home to go to the shops. Two referrals his GP had made for mental health services had been lost and he said he felt annoyed about that.

He functioned very well when he had a job, and money, and a van and functioned as a productive tax-paying member of society, but he was frustrated that, although he was an intelligent person, he could not seem to get his needs met.

She expressed concern about the controversial Work Capability Assessment, and called for change:

I realise that the reception staff have no clinical knowledge or responsibility for doing it, but the rules need to be changed so that they have the right and discretion when they see a human being turning up in physical distress to flag the situation up and ask for urgent re-assessment.

Read more here: http://www.thecanary.co/2017/01/19/man-spends-last-day-alive-jobcentre-told-hes-fit-work-dies-way-home/

Dad DIES 10 months after Job Centre bosses told his doctor not to write any more sick notes

The DWP wrote to James Harrison’s doctor behind his back and declared him fit for work 10 months before he died

A seriously ill dad died just 10 months after Department for Work and Pensions bosses advised his GP not to write any more sick notes for him.

James Harrison had been declared “fit for work” and should not get medical certificates, the letter said.

read more here:http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/dwp-told-dying-dads-gp-9529945?ICID=FB_mirror_main