On the eve of polling day…

On 10th December, data released by the Office for National Statistics suggested that since the General Election was called, there have been 2,531 more deaths than the average for the same weeks of the last 5 years (thanks to @Lu_Hiam for this). As we face the polls on Thursday there can be no more damning call for a change in Government.

Improvements in life expectancy began to falter back in 2014, with early evidence indicating signs of reversal amongst older ages. Indeed more recent evidence has clearly confirmed that trend. And what does this mean in reality? Women living in the most deprived areas  of England will not only live shorter lives than their more advantaged peers, their previous gains in life expectancy have been lost. All this in a time of unprecedented spending cuts and pay freezes. Though women may be particularly vulnerable, austerity is hurting us all.

People are talking about this. In June, The Observer asked Why is life expectancy faltering?  Since then, we have seen academic papers (e.g. work at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) and national reports (e.g. evidence from National Records Scotland) adding to the evidence. Just a few months ago, a host of practicing clinicians, epidemiologists, demographers, geographers, public health practitioners debated this at an event I organised on behalf of the British Society for Population Studies. Not to mention all the recent media. It seems unsurprising that mortality suffers in a society where our health system is operating far beyond its limits. Yet will we act?

On the eve of polling day, I want to take this opportunity to reprise a recent Twitter thread of mine.

 I, like many of us, will be watching with bated breath over the next 48 hours. I hope that come December 13th, we have more to be thankful of then an opportunity to rehash memes on the horror that is Friday 13th