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?