100 deaths a day in England. That’s the figure the BBC won’t talk about right now.

BBC News
Tracy Keeling

100 deaths a day. That’s the figure the BBC won’t talk about right now. But it should. Because a new report claims that could be the amount of excess fatalies England will see over the coming years.

Experts have linked these expected deaths to the government’s health and social care cuts. And most of them are due to be elderly people. But the BBC didn’t report the story to the public, claiming the research wasn’t up to scratch.

“Economic murder”

The study is titled Effects of health and social care spending constraints on mortality in England. Researchers from various universities, including Oxford, Cambridge and University College London, compiled it. They published it in the British Medical Journal.

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According to the research, there have already been almost 120,000 excess deaths since 2010. This is the number of fatalies “associated” with cuts. Experts also predict up to 100 extra deaths a day between now and 2020. And they say that deaths among people aged 60+ and in care homes “accounted for the majority” so far.

Cambridge University’s Professor Lawrence King, who was involved in the study, said:

Austerity does not promote growth or reduce deficits – it is bad economics. It is also a public health disaster. It is not an exaggeration to call it economic murder.

“Bad economics”

Researchers pinpointed where they believe the government’s “bad economics” has hit the hardest. They say cuts have hit social care worse than health. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) reported [pdf, p2] real funding for social care in England dropped by around 1% between 2009-10 and 2015-16. For adult social care specifically, the drop was 6.4% [pdf, p2] in the same period. And every £10 less of spending per person on social care, the study linked to five extra care home deaths per 100,000 of the population.

The report also identified a lack of nursing staff as an issue. Because it found that between 2010-2014 the rise in nurse numbers was 20 times lower than in the previous decade. This is despite England, like many advanced economies, seeing a “growing and ageing population”.

Not good enough

The Canary asked the BBC why, unlike the majority of other media outlets, it did not cover the study. The broadcaster said:

The BBC reports extensively on the NHS including budget pressures as evidenced by a recent report by Hugh Pym ‘NHS battle for money: Where will it end?’

Our audiences expect the BBC to provide impartial and well sourced news they can trust. We carefully considered whether the BMJ Open study merited reporting including verifying it with other sources and on this occasion we concluded it did not. The Science Media Centre, an independent body that peer reviews scientific news, has raised concerns that the conclusions were “highly speculative” and should be treated with “caution”.

You can see the full comments from the Science Media Centre here. The Department of Health also said “firm conclusions” cannot be drawn from the study.

Reality vs spin

The Conservative government will announce its budget on 22 November. No doubt, there’ll be more talk of “living within our means” and building a country “that works for all“. But we’re now clearly seeing what our society looks like after many years of Conservative rule.

Potentially 120,000 excess deaths so far, largely of elderly people, and 100 more a day on the cards up to 2020. 18.9m households in the UK battling to survive on their income; 3.4m more than were doing so in 2008/9. 2,000 food banks operating across the country that are pumping the equivalent of £11bn into local areas in order solve Britain’s food crisis.

That’s the real ‘cost’ of living in Tory Britain. Not that you’d fully understand that from the BBC.

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Featured image via Wikimedia

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