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#GPnews: Rise in UK life expectancy ‘pretty close to having ground to a halt’

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14:25 Government austerity may have slowed the increase in life expectancy of Britons, according to new analysis.

Since 2010, the rate of life expectancy growth was a one year increase every 10 years for women and every six years for men. But previously the rate was around a one year increase every five years for women and every three and a half years for men.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, who has led a Government review into health inequalities, said the improvement in life expectancy ‘is pretty close to having ground to a halt’, reports the Independent.

He added: ‘I am deeply concerned with the levelling off, I expected it to just keep getting better. I would say it is a matter of urgency to try and examine why this has happened – it is not inevitable that it should have levelled off.

‘I am deeply concerned that if we do not fund healthcare and social care adequately people will lead much worse lives.’

13:00 The Labour Party has responded to ambitious Government targets to cut smoking levels, reiterating the BMA’s call for an end to smoking cessation service budget cuts.

Sharon Hodgson MP, Labour’s shadow minister for public health, said: ‘Labour have long campaigned for a new Tobacco Control Plan, including a commitment in our 2017 manifesto, while the Government have dithered and delayed for eighteen months. In the House of Commons this month, in response to my question about this, Ministers finally committed to publishing the plan this summer.

‘Whilst the plan sets out a bold approach to creating a smoke-free society, with a shift from national action to local action, what it fails to do is recognise the deep cuts being inflicted upon local councils who are seeing their public health budgets slashed.

‘This plan can only be effective if the right level of funding is found to implement it, otherwise it is doomed to fail. Ministers cannot go on any longer ignoring the implications of their short-sighted cuts to public health budgets, which are vital to improving our nation’s and our NHS’s health.’

09:30 An international study of cancer survival rates has revealed that the UK is performing worse than the European average for nine out of ten cancers.

The research, commissioned by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), showed that on cancer survival:

  • If the UK achieved the cancer survival rates of Germany, over 35,000 more people would be alive five years after diagnosis;
  • The UK has the second worst survival rates for lung cancer – 8% of patients surviving more than five years (ahead only of Bulgaria – 7%). European average is 12.625%;
  • The UK has the second worst survival rates for pancreatic cancer – 3% of patients surviving more than five years (ahead only of Iceland – 2.56%) European average is 5.84%;
  • If the UK had the mortality rates of France, more than 100,000 women’s deaths could be prevented over the next ten years.

On patient access to medicines:

  • Access to cancer medicines is consistently lower than most European countries;
  • Across a sample of six commonly used cancer medicines, on average UK patients have lower levels of access than comparable EU countries.

Dr Richard Torbett, executive director at the ABPI, said: ‘The report shows the impact that comparatively lower levels of UK investment in cancer is having on the quality of care available to British patients. 

‘We are seeing that investment in cancer diagnosis and treatments like surgery, medicine and radiotherapy, in countries across Europe is leading to better survival rates and we have to ask whether this should be the ambition for the NHS. 

‘This should be a wake-up call for the UK to refocus the way we tackle cancer across the board. 

‘To make progress we need to look at investing more money to hasten the implementation of the Cancer Strategy; we need to speed up, not slow down, patient access to cost-effective medicines in the NHS and we need to create a more ambitious plan for using real world evidence to shine a light on cancer treatment outcomes.’

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