Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Britain is a country where Sir Michael Marmot knows why more and more 'poor' old men live shorter and shorter lives in poorer and poorer health

Sir Michael Marmot, who is 75 years old and is Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London, has led research groups on health inequalities for over 35 years. His Marmot Review published in 2010, 'Fair Society Healthy Lives', set out an analysis of the causes of health inequalities in England and what needed to be done to address them.

Nothing was done.

Now Sir Michael Marmot has published his report 'Health Equity in England : The Marmot Review 10 Years On' It makes sober reading and he doesn't pull any punches. In his introduction he says :

'England is faltering. From the beginning of the 20th century, England experienced continuous improvements in life expectancy but from 2011 these improvements slowed dramatically, almost grinding to a halt. For part of the decade 2010-2020, life expectancy actually fell in the most deprived communities outside London for women and, in some regions, for men. For men and women everywhere the time spent in poor health is increasing. This is shocking.'

He went On : 'In the United Kingdom, as in other countries, we are used to life expectancy and health improving year on year. It is what we have come to expect. The UK has been seen as a world leader in identifying and addressing health inequalities but something dramatic is happening. This report is concerned with England, but in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the damage to health and wellbeing is similarly nearly unprecedented. Put simply, if health has stopped improving it is a sign that society has stopped improving.' 

How does he explain this ?

'The fact that austerity was followed by failure of health to improve and widening health inequalities does not prove that the one caused the other. That said, the link is entirely plausible, given what has happened to the determinants of health.'

What does the future hold ?

'What we can envisage, and work towards, is a society that creates the conditions for everyone to be able to lead lives they have reason to value. That we do not have such a society at the moment is shown by the slowdown in life expectancy improvement, deteriorations in physical and mental health and widening health inequalities.' 

If Sir Michael is around to conduct another Review in 2030, when he will be 85 years old, will the answer for his plea that problems of inequality in health should, once again, be addressed, be  :

Nothing was done ?

“Poverty has a grip on our nation’s health – it limits the options families have available to live a healthy life. Government health policies that focus on individual behaviours are not effective. Something has gone badly wrong.”

Michael : https://www.health.org.uk/videos/watch-the-marmot-review-10-years-on

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