Posted on 16/11/2017 by
SOCIAL care cuts have killed an extra 120,000 Brits since 2010, a study suggests.
Experts said death rates have risen as spending has been squeezed and accused ministers of “economic murder”.
They warn cuts have left stretched nurses looking after too many vulnerable Brits with disastrous consequences.
Researchers say a lack of care staff may mean delays in older Brits getting crucial medication, food or water.
Spending on adult social care was slashed by 6.4 per cent between 2009/10 and 2015/16, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
It comes as numbers of OAPs are on the rise.
Researchers from University College London and Cambridge University calculate the cash squeeze was associated with more than 45,000 excess deaths between 2010 and 2014.
And by the end of this year, they estimate austerity could be to blame for 120,000 extra avoidable lives lost.
They said funding cuts are now linked to a 100 avoidable deaths daily - mostly among over-60s.
Experts said the NHS and councils need an extra £6.3 billion a year to reverse this deadly trend.
Researcher Ben Maruthappu, from UCL, said: “The take home message is that you do get what you pay for. It is clear underfunding health and social care funding can cost lives.
“In the real world, overstretched nurses can mean that patients are not receiving their medication on time, or food and drink when they need it, or an illness is missed.”
Fellow researcher Professor Lawrence King, from Cambridge University, said: “This study shows austerity is a public health disaster. It is not an exaggeration to call it economic murder.”
Responding to the study, published in the journal BMJ Open, Royal College of Nursing head Janet Davies, said: “This is yet more evidence that links the current shortage of nurses with increased patient mortality.
“Despite years of warnings, all parts of the NHS and social care system do not have enough nurses and people, particularly vulnerable and older individuals, are paying the highest price.”
Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said councils face a £2.3 billion annual social care shortfall by 2020.
She said: “New government money is now the only way to protect the services caring for elderly and disabled people, and ensure they can enjoy dignified and healthy lives, live in their own community and stay out of hospital for longer.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “As the researchers themselves note, this study cannot be used to draw any firm conclusions about the cause of excess deaths.
“The NHS is treating more people than ever before and funding is at record levels with an £8 billion increase by 2020-21.
“We’ve also backed adult social care with £2 billion investment.”
Chris Ham, head of health think tank the King’s Fund, has warned NHS cash pressures have never been worse in the past four decades.
He warned: “In the 40 or more years I have worked with and for the NHS, I can’t remember a time when the government of the day has been so unwilling to act on credible evidence of service and funding pressures.”