Sunday, 30 September 2018

Britain is no country for old men expecting to live longer and longer

Growth in life expectancy in Britain has come to a halt and in some areas has actually decreased. The average life expectancy for baby boys born in England in 2015 to 2017 remains unchanged, at 79.2 years, but in Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland it has declined by 0.1 years,.

The statistics represent the lowest improvement in life expectancy since records began and puts Britain behind other leading economies. Public health experts have blamed care failings and cuts to social services, while the charity, Age UK, has described the findings as “deeply depressing” and called for extra investment into Britain’s care system.

Sophie Sanders, of the ONS Centre for Ageing and Demography, said the figures represented “the lowest improvements in life expectancy since the start of the series in 1980 to 1982. This slowing in improvements is reflected in the chances of surviving to age 90 years from birth, which has also seen virtually no improvement since 2012 to 2014.” 

The former Liberal Democrat Pensions Minister and Director of Policy at Royal London, Sir Steve Webb, said : “The UK has slumped from being one of the strongest performers when it comes to improving life expectancy to bottom of the league. There is a real human cost behind these statistics and we urgently need to understand more about why this is happening. The Government needs to conduct urgent research into these worrying trends. If other countries can ride out the economic storms and continue to drive up life expectancy, there is no reason why the UK should not be able to do so.”

Jane Ashcroft, the Chief Executive of 'Anchor', England’s largest not-for-profit provider of care and housing for older people, said the figures strengthened calls for a dedicated 'Minister for Old People' : “It’s fantastic to hear that so many of us are now living into our 90s in the UK but we must not forget that with an ageing population comes greater responsibility to cater for our older people living well into retirement. As the figures increase, Government must step up to ensure good social care, housing and health care remains a priority for older people – who all too often fall through the cracks.”

Charity Director at 'Age UK', Caroline Abrahams, said the figures were “deeply depressing” and “It’s hard to attribute precise cause and effect, but the fact we are seeing this trend at the same time as our health and care services are under such acute strain is surely more than a coincidence. The Government has recently announced a 10 year bonus for the National Health Service but continues to look the other way as our care system effectively disintegrates, leaving well over a million older people with some unmet need for care.”

Shadow Health Minister, Justin Madders, said : “This slowdown in improvements in life expectancy exposes the terrible effects of austerity policies imposed by the Government since 2010. It is simply astonishing that the UK is now falling so far behind other countries. It is an appalling sign of the Government’s failure to improve people’s life chances as years of underfunding in health and social care take their toll.”

The annual change in life expectancy for 65 year olds in weeks for men and women between 1981- 83 and 2015 -2017

Report : National Life tables UK 2015 - 2017 :

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