TENS of thousands of people may have died because of NHS and social care cuts, according to an explosive report published today.
Its authors warn that, without “urgent intervention” by the government, more deaths are likely.
The research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University of Oxford and Blackburn with Darwen Council provides the latest damning indictment of the crisis engulfing the NHS and social care.
Published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, the paper cites statistics that reveal an additional 30,000 deaths in 2015 compared to 2006-2014, which represents the biggest spike in mortality rates in England and Wales for almost 50 years.
The researchers suggest that the increased death rate can be explained by “relentless cuts” and say their findings “should be seen in the context of the worsening financial situation of the NHS.”
They found that NHS performance had “worsened markedly” in January 2015, coinciding with the largest increase in excess deaths.
This deterioration included missed targets for ambulance call-out times, a rise in accident and emergency waiting times, operations being cancelled, an increase in so-called “bed-blocking” and staff shortages.
The authors wrote: “Since the 2010 election, the impact of cuts resulting from the imposition of austerity on the NHS has been profound.”
They cite £16.7 billion cuts in the welfare budget and severe cuts in social care “with a 17 per cent decrease in spending for older people since 2009,” despite a 9 per cent rise in the number of people aged 85 and over.
And they conclude: “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 is not being pursued with more urgency?”
A Department of Health spokesperson denied a link between excess deaths and cuts to health and social care, claiming: “This report is a triumph of personal bias over research.”
But GMB national secretary Rehana Azam said: “There is no doubt years of savage Tory NHS cuts are leading to thousands of excess deaths.
“You don’t hack away at the foundations of our health service and not expect to see mortality rates rise.
“These are the grim consequences of the Conservatives’ shadowy drive towards privatisation.”
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