Ongoing cuts to health and social care services could possibly be responsible for tens of thousands of deaths, researchers are claiming.
According to a new research paper by the University of Oxford, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, an “unprecedented” number of deaths in England and Wales during 2015 could be linked to “relentless cuts” during the same year.
Without “urgent intervention” the increases in mortality are likely to continue, the collaborative research group has said.
In 2015, the number of deaths in the two countries reached a 50-year high, two articles published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine reported.
One paper read: “The long-term decline in mortality in England and Wales has reversed, with approximately 30,000 extra deaths compared to what would be expected of the average age-specific death rates in 2006 to 2014.”
While investigating other possible causes for the surge in mortality rates, the researchers concluded that “the evidence points to a major failure of the health system, possibly exacerbated by failings in social care”.
The group highlights that since 2009 there has been a 17% cut to spending on services for older people. Comparatively, for the same period, there has been a 9% rise in the number of people aged 85 and over.
“The possibility that the cuts to health and social care are implicated in almost 30,000 excess deaths is one that needs further exploration,” the report authors concluded.
Responding to the research, a spokesman for the Department of Health in England said: “Every year there is significant variation in reported excess deaths, and in the year following this study they fell by nearly 20,000, undermining any link between pressure on the NHS and the number of deaths.
“Moreover, to blame an increase in a single year on ‘cuts’ to the NHS budget is arithmetically impossible given that budget rose by almost £15 billion between 2009-10 and 2014-15.”
Source: The Telegraph
Date Published: February 24, 2017
Author: Jonathan Brown