Move out to live a bit longer

Living in Southwark and Lambeth increases your chances of dying earlier from preventable diseases due to NHS funding shortfalls, a report has stated.

The devastating effect of the postcode lottery on lives in South London is spelt out in the study by the Centre for Progressive Policy (CPP).

New research has linked waiting times and safety incidents to the financial performance of NHS trusts.

It says the two boroughs are among 32 “risk zones” where people are more likely to die of preventable causes.

That puts them in the worst 10 per cent of England’s 321 health zones. The CPP has found the 588,300 people living in these two South London areas are 29 per cent – or almost a third – more likely to die of preventable causes.

Health economists have named and shamed Southwark and Lambeth and 30 other death hot spots in the country – and claimed their findings are due to a struggling NHS.

Unprecedented pressure on the health service and harsh funding cuts placed on hospitals in England were blamed by experts at the CPP in their paper Diagnosis Critical, published on Tuesday.

They warn the “alarming” data – collected from the NHS and Office for National Statistics – shows the NHS and local authorities must work together to improve public health.

The report also shows life expectancy in Lewisham is almost two-and-a-half years shorter than in neighbouring Bromley.

Life expectancies in South London’s boroughs (with their population in 2011 census) are:
* Southwark (288,283 people)
– 78.9 years
* Lambeth (303,086 people)
78.9 years
* Lewisham (275,885 people)
– 79.0 years
* Wandsworth (306,995 people)
– 79.5 years
* Croydon (372,759 people)
– 80.3 years
* Merton (199,693 people)
– 80.4 years
* Bromley (309,392 people)
– 81.4 years
* Greenwich (254,557 people)
– 79.0 years

The report said: “Most NHS trusts are now running deficits with a negative effect on patient safety and on standards of cancer treatment, accident and emergency attendance, and elective care. But throwing more money at the NHS will not solve the problem.

“Public spending on social care has fallen eight per cent since 2010 as the Government cut council funding, saving it pennies locally but costing it pounds through the NHS.”
The report uses NHS financial data from 2015-16 and Office for National Statistics figures for life expectancy from between 2012-16.

The diseases which cause preventable death are not listed but are likely to include some cancers, heart disease and liver failure brought on by excess alcohol consumption.

The full list of 32 risk zones includes Middlesbrough, Manchester, Liverpool, Barnsley, Bradford, Stoke, Southend and Dartford.

The London organiser of union Unite, Onay Kasab, said: “There is a direct link between poor pay and health. Our staff live in areas where there is a strain on resources where people are likely to die early.

“We are aware of the tough choices our members make every day. And they have been telling us that for years. They deal with people on benefits, and the impact of Universal Credit. That affects our staff badly.

“Jeremy Hunt has promised more money for the NHS but it will just end in the hands of privateers and the internal market if there is not a root and branch reform of the NHS.”

Jamie Brown, UNISON Head of Health – London Region, said: “Unfortunately, it is no surprise that when the Government allows a major Trust like King’s to struggle-on with insurmountable PFI debts and insufficient funding there is a correlation with health outcomes for South Londoners. Nurses, health care assistants, administrators, and other health workers give their best every day for the patients they care for, and the general public value the NHS like no other institution, but the Government is failing to adequately fund health and social care.”

A spokesman for NHS Lambeth CCG said: “Our communities in Lambeth are some of the most vibrant and diverse but also some of the most deprived in England.
“We are working hard to improve the health outcomes of Lambeth people and the quality of care available to them.

“Working closely with our NHS and social care partners and others to deliver Lambeth CCG’s mission – to improve health outcomes and reduce health inequalities in Lambeth, we are developing innovative ways of helping people stay well and get better if they are unwell.

“In the last year we have provided nearly 65,000 extra GP appointments for Lambeth residents through extended access hubs in the borough.”

A spokesperson from NHS Southwark CCG said: “We are committed to getting the best health outcomes for local people from the funding we get from government and we work in partnership with the local authority as well as other health and care organisations to do this. We are concerned by the statistics highlighted in this report and we will look at these with public health colleagues alongside the extensive work we have done that looks at the impact of social need on the health of local people.”
Lambeth leader Councillor Lib Peck said: “This alarming report shows that eight years of Tory austerity has left our NHS in a complete mess, and as a result patient care is suffering.

“As a Labour council we’ll continue to defend investment in health and social care, and work with the NHS in Lambeth to improve services and protecting our most vulnerable residents.”

NHS England refused to comment.


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