Getting to the Heart of Austerity

The British Heart Foundation have found that the number of people dying from heart attacks in Leicester is the highest in the East Midlands: a tragic claim-to-fame for our city. But as the chairman of the Leicester City clinical commissioning group (CMG) explains, it is perhaps understandable considering how “socio-economic deprivations” contribute to this problem (August 27, Leicester Mercury).

It is well-established that positive heath is closely related to increases in standard of living. For example, females in the most advantaged part of Britain can expect to live 20.1 years longer in ‘good’ health than those in the least advantaged areas.

Years of healthy life expectancy (LE) and poor health by deprivation level http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmhealth/286/28605.htm
Years of healthy life expectancy (LE) and poor health by deprivation level http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmhealth/286/28605.htm

Hence the abnormally high rates of poverty present in Leicester help us comprehend our cities poor health outcomes. Indeed, as the local CMG point out on their web site: “Outcomes for cardiovascular disease within the city are… about 50% higher than the national average.”

Elevated levels of socio-economic hardship in the city have been backed up by a recent government study which found people in Leicester were among “the least happy” in Leicestershire; with happiness being considered as a combined index of life satisfaction and its relation to the rising cost of living (August 18, Mercury).

British Heart Foundation trustee Sir Michael Marmot is well aware of the class nature of such health inequalities. And in 2012, a group of mostly Labour Party members (none from Leicester) supported a parliamentary motion endorsing his conclusion “that the link between social conditions and health is not a footnote to the real concerns with health but should become the main focus”.

The motion also recognised “that with equal health opportunities some 202,000 early deaths a year might be avoided”! If these needless deaths weren’t enough of an incentive for our Labour Council to oppose the Tory government’s cuts that decimate our cities services then I don’t know what would be.

But instead of taking a proactive political stance to preventing the impoverishment and untimely demise of Leicester’s residents, our Councillors say they are helpless… which is patent nonsense. Do they not remember how Liverpool City Council fought back and beat the Tories during the 1980s?

The hypocritical response of Deputy city mayor Rory Palmer to the British Heart Foundation’s shocking data was to say that it “reminds us we should not be complacent.”

The irony, however, is that our Labour Council seem totally complacent (and incompetent) in the face of such death-inducing cuts, which they have proven by their determined resistance to any efforts to encourage our city to oppose the implementation of austerity.

This complacency explains our Council’s infuriating silence with respect to Jeremy Corbyn’s open rejection of austerity, and their paradoxical acceptance of both service cuts for the poor and tax cuts for the powerful.

This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury on 1st September.

healthgap

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