Rising life expectancy, which has been consistently going up since the early 1900s, is now grinding to a halt, according to the Institute of Health Equity.
Between 2000 and 2015, life expectancy at birth increased by one year every five years for women and by one year every 3.5 years for men. However, since 2010, this has gone down to one year every 10 years for women and one for every six for men.
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Michael Marmot, who heads the Institute at University College London suggested it was ‘entirely possible’ that the slow-down was a result of cuts to public health spending which have taken place since the Conservatives took back government in 2010.
‘I am deeply concerned with the levelling off. I expected it to just keep getting better. Since 2009-2015 it’s pretty flat, whereas we are used to it getting better and better all the time,’ said Mr Marmot, claiming the upper limits of the human lifespan were around 115 years.
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Social factors, including education, employment and working conditions and poverty, have been attributed to affecting life expectancy due to their influence on individuals’ lifestyles.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) stressed the importance of nurses to the improving of living standards and encouragement of healthy lifestyles. They branded cuts to spending under the current government ‘political’ and called for a reversal.
An RCN spokesperson said: ‘Poverty and poor health go hand in hand, and the political decision to not give health services the money they need is now being seen through stalling life expectancies.
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‘Nurses can make an important difference. Nurse-led smoking cessation clinics are just once example of a simple intervention that improves patients’ life expectancy and reduces the burden on the NHS. But these services and the people who deliver them are being cut away.’
According to the RCN, a shortfall of 40,000 nurses in England and the 1% cap on nursing pay rises across the UK are holding back healthcare quality.