Austerity leading to people living shorter lives in Sheffield, shock report reveals

Greg Fell.
Greg Fell.
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Tough austerity measures are leading to people dying at a younger age in Sheffield, a shock report has revealed.

Greg Fell, director of public health for Sheffield, highlighted in his report 'Adding life to years and years to life' how the real cost of financial cuts is resulting in people's lives being cut shorter.

The cover of the report.

The cover of the report.

The document showed that there has been "very little improvement" in women's life expectancy over the last 15 years, while men are expected to live shorter lives now than they did a few years ago.

In addition, healthy life expectancy - the length of time you can expect to remain in good health - has also dropped for both men and women. And the figures are worse than the national average.

The report also recommended changes to the way care is delivered which could save the NHS in Sheffield around £4 million a year.

Mr Fell said the figures "tell a worrying story" and added: "This is deeply concerning.

"There are many theories to explain this stall in improvement, but the direct and indirect impact of continuing austerity ranks highest among these."

The report showed Sheffield men's average life expectancy dropped from 78.8 years in 2012-14 to 78.7 years in 2013-15.

The average healthy life expectancy for men fell from 59.3 years in 2009-11 to 59 in 2013-15. For women it dropped from 61.5 years to 59.9.

These are lower than the latest national figures for 2013-15.

In England men can expect to live until they are 79.4 years old and be in good health for 63.4 of those years.

Women's life expectancy is 83.1 years and healthy life expectancy is 64.1 years.

The report also highlighted how 94,110 people in Sheffield have two or more long term health conditions, with hypertension and depression the most common illnesses.

Mr Fell suggested the NHS should move away from "building bigger hospitals and increasing the number of hospital beds" to tackle more demand for services.

Instead, there should be more focus on 'early identification and management of these conditions within primary care' in the community before the health problems become worse.

The report states that if the onset of people becoming unwell is delayed by just a year on average this could save the NHS in Sheffield about £4 million a year.

Mr Fell said the aspiration is that "instead of developing your first long term condition in your late fifties, you develop it in your sixties instead, as well as having fewer long term conditions overall."

The report recommends investment should be doubled in primary and community-based care, while Sheffield Council and the city's clinical commissioning group should "enhance their approach to healthy ageing."

Mr Fell said: "Prevention is the key to addressing growing expenditure on health and social care and until this is addressed robustly and improved outcomes secured, the issue of care costs will remain."