Both adult and infant mortality now rise in the UK

Both adult and infant mortality now rise in the UK

In March 2018 we learnt that, in contrast to all other countries in Europe, both adult and infant mortality are now rising in the UK making an already awful situation worse.

On March 14th 2018 the Office of National Statistics reported that infant mortality in England and Wales had been rising in recent years, having steadily fallen every year until 2015. In 2015, just before the rise started, ‘Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced an ambition to halve the rate of stillbirths and infant deaths by 2030.’ This is the second year in which the rate has risen, resulting in the UK now having one of the worse records on infant mortality in the affluent world.

The overall rise in infant mortality coincides with a rapid faltering in adult health in England and Wales. The worse increase in mortality for many years has now been reported for the first seven weeks of 2018 . The recent rise in adult mortality was not due to an unusual number of deaths from influenza. It was also hitting middle class people hard as they made up the bulk of people living to the ages that were most effected. Even people affluent enough to hold private pensions were dying faster, but it was the poorest who suffered the most.

Problems in underfunded NHS hospitals and social care have played a part. Health chiefs of all kind have so far failed to investigate the causes thoroughly, or even in most cases acknowledge that there is a problem. This is despite mortality for the poorest infants in the UK rising every year since 2011. It is despite mortality continuing to improve in all other European countries, which often still benefit from very rapid improvements in health; no longer seen in the UK.  The most recent rise in premature deaths is now leading to a situation where overall life expectancy could begin to fall for all groups. It is already falling in the poorest areas and for the poorest groups.

The situation may be worse in Scotland.

Only a year ago tabloid newspapers were dismissing reports such as this as ‘biased’. Now the same newspapers call for health officials to give an indication of the possible causes. An urgent investigation by the Health Select Committee of the House of Commons is needed and is now being called for by people far and wide.

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Tragically this was foreseeable as long ago as 2013. It need not have happened: