Do we care enough to ask what is behind the biggest recent annual rise in death rates?

The Telegraph lead with provisional statistics from the ONS this morning on the steepest annual rise in death rates since the second world war. They are right that alarm bells should be ringing, and urgent questions should be asked:

Is this related to the data in yesterday’s Mental health Taskforce Report showing a scandalous lack of services for those with serious mental illness, which is on the rise and which we know causes premature death.

Is it the cuts in social care biting, meaning people can’t leave hospital and return home because there is no one to care for them, relation, friend or state?

Is it related to the epidemic of loneliness, where social isolation actually leads to losing the will to live?

Or are we already reaping what we have sown in lifestyle diseases such as obesity and liver disease (we have the worst incidence in Europe) from overconsumption of food and alcohol? We have had countless public health warnings that poor lifestyles will cut years from our life expectancy, and we’ve gone on sending out mixed messages about eating and drinking and still have no effective obesity strategy.

Once again this research SHOULD force a public discussion about the true costs of public services, and remind us of our role in caring for our neighbour. The last question is, do you care enough to demand that debate?


About Julia Manning

Julia Manning is a social pioneer, writer, campaigner and commentator. Formerly a clinical optometrist specialising in diabetes and visual impairment, she is the founder and Director of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal and Social. 2020health has through research, events and campaigning influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. In 2014, 2020health were founding partners of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Since 2016, 2020health has increasingly focused on digital health and public health in the community. Julia is a Fellow of the RSA and now also a part-time PhD student at the UCL Interaction Centre, studying the use of digital technology for stress management in the workplace. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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