Research published in The Lancet gives data on health indicators over the last 20 years. Life expectancy has increased by 4 years since 1990, but the treatment of certain serious chronic conditions needs to be improved. The UK comes below average in terms of healthy life expectancy in comparison with the 18 European and other countries in the study and we enjoy fewer years of good health before we die.
This study by leading health academics from Britain and several other countries concludes that to make progress in reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and cancer there must be improvements in “public health, prevention, early intervention, and treatment activities.” The authors also point to “the growing burden of disability, particularly from mental disorders, substance use, musculoskeletal disorders, and falls”, which “deserves an integrated and strategic response.”
Commenting on problems exposed in this article Professor John Newton, chief knowledge officer at Public Health England (PHE), said that the NHS must pay attention but the underlying causes of health problems “often have little to do with health care.” The Lancet’s research should be taken as a call for various aspects of the Health Service to be improved, for the good of the patients.
The Condem government, intent on privatising health care, has no solutions for the problems of the NHS. We should bear in mind that many of our health problems have socio-economic causes such as poverty, homelessness, malnutrition and unemployment and that these factors are aggravated by the dominant neo-liberal policies of the ruling class. As well as fighting to maintain and improve our NHS, we also have to think about how we can best change society.
For thoughts on a Socialist Vision for Health see http://www.theworker.org.uk/br-health.htm