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 is a social pioneer, writer and campaigner. She studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991, later specialising in visual impairment and diabetes. During her career in optometry, she lectured at City University, was a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital and worked with Primary Care Trusts. She ran a domiciliary practice across south London and was a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. Julia formed 20/20Health in 2006. Becoming an expert in digital health solutions, she led on the NHS–USA Veterans’ Health Digital Health Exchange Programme and was co-founder of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Her research interests are now in harnessing digital to improve personal health, and she is a PhD candidate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at UCL. She is also dedicated to creating a sustainable Whole School Wellbeing Community model for schools that builds relationships, discovers assets and develops life skills. She is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Digital Health Council. 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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