Needless deaths caused by government spending cuts

Health and social care spending cuts have led to 120,000 needless deaths over the last seven years. A report in the British Medical Journal exposed the dramatic figures.

Those are the very cuts that we with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and other diseases and disabilities, have consistently opposed.

The shocking total of the coyly named “excess deaths” is an indictment of UK governments since 2010. That includes the Conservative-led coalition of 2010-2015, the Conservative government of 2015-17, and the current one elected five months ago.

deathsBMJ Open, the online version of the journal, published a report of the paper: “Effects of health and social care spending constraints on mortality in England: a time trend analysis”. Johnathan Watkins of Pilar Research and Education, based in Cambridge, UK, was the lead author.

In its report, BMJ Open said:

The squeeze on public finances since 2010 is linked to nearly 120,000 excess deaths in England, with the over 60s and care home residents bearing the brunt, reveals the first study of its kind.

The critical factor in these figures may be changes in nurse numbers, say the researchers, who warn that there could be an additional toll of up to 100 deaths every day from now on in.

Between 2010 and 2014, the NHS in England has only had a real term annual increase in government funding of 1.3 per cent, despite rising patient demand and healthcare costs.

And real term spend on social care has fallen by 1.19 per cent every year during the same period, despite a significant projected increase in the numbers of over 85s–those most likely to need social care–from 1.6 million in 2015 to 1.8 million in 2020, say the researchers.

The spending restraints were associated with 45,368 excess deaths between 2010 and 2014 compared with equivalent trends before 2010.

Deaths related to cuts in social care funding

Most of these deaths were among the over 60s and care home residents. And every £10 drop in spend per head on social care was associated with five extra care home deaths per 100,000 of the population, the analysis showed.

These associations remained after further detailed analysis and taking account of global and national economic factors.

Changes in the numbers of hospital and community nurses were the most salient factors in the associations found between spend and care home deaths. From 2001 to 2010 nurse numbers rose by an average of 1.61% every year, but from 2010 to 2014 rose by just 0.07%–20 times lower than in the previous decade.

On the basis of the trends between 2009 and 2014, the researchers estimate that an extra 152,141 people could die between 2015 and 2020, equivalent to nearly 100 extra deaths every day.

The funds needed to close this ‘mortality gap’ would be £6.3 billion every year, or a total of £25.3 billion, they calculate.

So, Conservative cuts in social care spending have led to close to 120,000 people dying needlessly since 2010.

It’s a national disgrace.

And these figures do not include other deaths. For example, 2,400 Employment and Support Allowance claimants died within two weeks of being found fit for work. That was the figure revealed by the DWP in 2015, in response to a Freedom of Information request lodged by Mike Sivier of

I wonder what the total is now, two years later.

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* * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.



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