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Health inequalities led to one million early deaths in 2010s

Health inequalities led to one million early deaths in 2010s
By Jess Hacker
9 January 2024

More than one million people living in 90% of areas in England lived shorter lives than they should between 2011 and the start of the pandemic, new research has found.

According to research led by Sir Michael Marmot’s Institute of Health Equity, the period from 2011 to 2019 saw more than a million people dying earlier than they otherwise would have done had they experienced the death rates seen in the least deprived decile of areas.

Of these excess deaths, 148,000 were additional to what might have been expected based on levels in the two years prior to 2011, the report – titled Health Inequalities, Lives Cut Short – said.

And in 2020, the level of excess deaths rose by over a further 28,000 compared to that over the previous five years.

In 2020, Sir Michael’s Build Back Fairer report highlighted how pre-pandemic social and economic conditions contributed to the unequal Covid-19 death toll.

The cabinet office cited the report as ‘the most comprehensive early assessment of how Covid-19 exacerbated existing health inequalities’ when he was named in the 2023 King’s New Year Honours.

Lats January, Sir Michael criticised the Government’s short-term policies being announced and rolled out, stating that they damage the service overall, and warning health leaders to be ‘aware of short-term fixes that might undermine a longer term agenda’ for the service.

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