Tory austerity is killing Britain. “England and Wales has suffered the biggest annual rise in deaths for almost fifty years” reported the Daily Telegraph (February 17), with “the elderly… now bearing the brunt of a growing crisis in the NHS and cuts to social care, with women suffering the most.”
Fresh data from the Office of National Statistics shows that over 2015 there were 5.4 per cent more deaths in England than the year before – equating to almost 27,000 extra deaths. But this is no anomaly. So while total deaths has been decreasing year-on-year from the 70s until 2011, that year marked the time when this downward trend began to reverse.
Professor Danny Dorling explained to the Telegraph:
“When we look at 2015, we are not just looking at one bad year. We have seen excessive mortality – especially among women – since 2012. I suspect the largest factor here is cuts to social services – to meals on wheels, to visits to the elderly. We have seen these changes during a period when the health service is in crisis, while social care services have been cut back.”
But things are likely to only get worse, as Tory cuts continue to strangle the ability of local authorities to provide basic public services to the frail and elderly.
Soon, Leicester City Council will be receiving £155 million less funding every year, and these financial pressures are already having catastrophic consequences for our city. Last December City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby admitted these budget cuts mean that the Council has “appallingly difficult decisions to make. We are having to think about things that we had never dreamt of doing.”
Trying to put a positive spin on the latest cuts budget he was presenting, Sir Peter said “it would continue to stop the city falling apart, but certainly won’t enable us to provide what the city needs.”
But our city is already falling apart. When one examines the most recent data from the Office of National Statistics it appears that in 2015 there were an additional 440 deaths in Leicester alone compared to the previous year.
Surely this is reason enough for our city Council to give serious consideration to the recent call from Leicester City Unison branch to investigate the potential of making “no cuts” to local public services for the next three years and launching a public fightback against Tory austerity!
Notes on the Calculation of Extra Deaths in Leicester
“Age-standardised mortality rates (ASMRs) are a better measure of mortality than simply looking at the number of deaths, as they take into account the population size, its age structure and the age distribution of deaths. Compared with 2014, ASMRs in 2015 increased for both sexes with 1,156.4 deaths per 100,000 population for males and 863.8 for females; the percentage increase was larger among females (5.1%) than males (3.1%).”
Data for 2014 showed 1,121.3 deaths per 100,000 population for males and 821.9 for females. Thus 2015 represented an increase of 35.1 for males and 41.9 for females.
“With the exception of 2015, mortality rates have generally been decreasing. This is due to improved lifestyles and medical advances in the treatment and diagnosis of many illnesses and diseases.”
Leicester unfortunately already suffers from significantly higher rates of mortality than other more affluent parts of the country. In Leicester ASMRs in 2015 were 1,450.8 deaths per 100,000 population for males (an increase from 2014 of 1,350.8) and 973.3 for females (an increase from 2014 of 926.6). This represented an increase of 100 for males and 46.7 for females.
Leicester’s increase in deaths between 2014 and 2015 is notably higher than the national average, which might be expected given the already high rates of deprivation in our city. Thus any cuts to public services have a higher impact upon public health than in wealthier parts of the country. Thus in comparison to the national average an additional 64.9 males died per 100,000 population, and an additional 5.2 females dies per 100,000 population.
If we assume Leicester has a population of approximately 300,000 people, then in real terms the extra deaths occurring in our city in 2015 compared to the year before were 300 males and 140 females.