Life expectancy among women living in England’s poorest communities has declined since 2011 and overall life expectancy growth across England has stalled for the first time in a century, a new report finds.
The report, by Prof Sir Michael Marmot, comes a decade after he first warned about the growing health gap between England’s rich and poor, and between the north and south of the country.
He described the situation as “shocking” and the last ten years as if “England has lost a decade”.
“If health has stopped improving, that means society has stopped improving,” he explained.
The deteriorating health of the country outside London shows the impact of Conservative cuts to health spending outside the capital, which have dramatically affected those areas over the last decade, and shows a situation worse than in similar European economies.
The NHS has consistently failed to meet its targets across the UK for the last decade, with Tory government ministers reducing minimum standards instead of investing in care. Meanwhile, the social care crisis has also not been addressed with local governments feeling the squeeze after 10 years of austerity.
Nonetheless, the Institute of Health Equity reports says the issues go far beyond struggles at the NHS and points to deeper social and economic troubles that plague England’s poorest regions.
Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, described the report as a “devastating verdict on ten years of austerity under the Conservatives” and called for “urgent action” to be taken by the prime minister.