Scotland: The Sick Nation

I followed with interest the news this week regarding life expectancy in Scotland. While life expectancy in Scotland has mostly continued to improve since records began we still lag behind the rest of the UK and many in the EU, however reports this week have indicated we have stalled.

One of the more shocking things that I heard was that austerity is basically killing people quicker, we know about how the impact of sanctions has resulted in suicides and malnutrition, but I had not considered that longer term impacts on service provision would then have an impact on people’s life expectancy. It is estimated that cuts to health and social care are costing around 30,000 deaths per year. The measures brought in by both the Liberal/Tory coalition and the current Tory Government are killing people quicker and more so in poorer areas according to a UK wide report from the University of Liverpool.

Danny Dorling, Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford, speaking about Scotland noted that “This is part of a wider trend seen across the UK, and in the USA, but not in other countries in Europe or elsewhere in the world”.

Predictably Scottish Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar MSP said: “It is truly astonishing that life expectancy in Scotland has not increased for the first time since records began. “Such revelations will shock Scots and should act as a wake-up call to the SNP”. “We know that life expectancy is linked to inequality. Under this SNP Government inequality is on the rise, with the health inequality gap, attainments gap and wealth gap all widening not narrowing. That’s a shameful record of neglect over the last 10 years.

However Professor Dorling goes on to say that “I don’t think it has anything to do with the SNP government” he added. “I think the same thing would have occurred had Labour held power in Scotland. It is the fall in funding due to the financial crash of 2008.”

It is looking pretty clear that the austerity agenda being pursued by the current Government, and by the previous coalition and Labour Governments, have added to the likelihood that if you live in Scotland you may die younger. Blaming the SNP is pretty much all Scottish Labour are good for anymore while the bigger issue is the contempt that this country has for the poor, the vulnerable and anyone else who doesn’t fit into their idea of a worthy person.

There has been some discussion on various blogs about how you should use your vote in the up and coming council elections, one thing is clear however you vote, and if you despise the Tories, you should make sure you place them last on any ballot paper. They really are the scum of the earth and no doubt after today’s budget the poor will be poorer still, as will many of the rest of us not part of the 5%. Austerity is killing us quicker, the UK is killing us quicker and the Tories are killing us quicker. If you can’t or won’t understand that then any vote other than a vote against austerity is a vote for an earlier death.

I know that there are no quick fixes in any of this but surely part of the solution is to have all powers reside at Holyrood, not at a Westminster who are quiet happy to save the pension money so they can spend it on Nuclear Weapons and Buckingham Palace.

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4 comments

  1. Dave

    I agree with your article, particularly the bit about the Tories. Life expectancy for older aldults however is a tad more complicated than just how long you live. I care for a close relative in her late eighties who is basically confined to her house unless someone takes her out. She relies on her 3 days daycare, her 4 times daily homecare and the goodness of others to keep her company and take her out. Compared to many older people she has a very good service because she has me fighting her corner. I worked in care for many years and know how the game is played. Even with all this the lack of choice that comes with reduced mobility, failing eyesight, shaking i.e. The inability to choose and pursue her interests independently has caused serious depression. She says she has no quality of life and is tired of living. She is kept alive by a daily array of prescription medication that would leave many of us unable to eat breakfast. She is quite bluntly, being kept alive artificially in a situation she finds unfulfilling. Some may say she’s ungrateful, just look at the help she gets. Me I see the misery on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, I will be gutted when she goes (that’s if it’s actually before me) but I can’t help but wonder how many old people across the UK are in a similar situation. I hope to god this doesn’t happen to me but everybody says that and we all hang on when the time comes because it’s the only game in town.

    I apologise for going on a bit and wandering off message but maybe these figures are a bit misleading any way. Is it too simplistic to ask if we should be looking at quality of life expectancy instead.

    • grumpyscottishman

      Dave
      Please don’t apologise, my mother is 80 and cares for my disabled brother and I know that someday soon that will fall on me and my older brother with both my brother and mother needing care. I totally understand about quality of life and never judge when I read about people saying they have had enough, I consider myself a Christian but I try not to judge too much, other than Tories. I was just surprised by what I found when I decided to spend a little time trying to delve into and understand the overall picture. I often consider myself to be pretty aware and then something like this comes along and I see how ignorant I am, heaven knows how people who do not bother to learn and don’t have the time can ever make an informed choice in our politics. However, the more I learn the more I hate the Tories and other unionist parties, they are complicity in death. I don’t have a lot against the SNP but the time for caution and trying to appease the soft no voters and the unionists is coming to an end, we don’t have much more time to make a really positive change. I’m 48 so I might not get the benefits of change if Scotland takes back its sovereignty but it would be nice to try and build something better for those who come after us.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Bruce

  2. trispw

    Excellent article.

    Typically, the academic thinks it is nothing to do with the SNP government because it is happening over the entire UK, where locally administration is by Tory (England), Labour (Wales), SNP ()Scotland), and a power-sharing government in Ireland.

    it is not happening in Europe, where there are a variety of left and right wing governments.

    Even if I weren’t pro-independence, the way that unionist parties chose to blame everything on the SNP would convince me that none of them is to make the tea at parliament, never mind govern.

    Seriously Tory, Labour and LiberalDem people. This is not what we pay you for. Any moron could stand up in Holyrood, or for that matter London and say ‘SNP BAD’. What we pay you for is a modicum of intellectual rigour in your opposition.

    SNP bad because they got our job-for-life, really won’t do.

    I also understand what Dave is saying. It’s something about which I feel quite strongly.

    But it’s not easy to sort. Other nations either provide first-rate social services or have family homes big enough to have grandparents living with families. When I asked a Spanish friend where her granny and grandad lived, she looked at me like I was weird.”With us”, she said.giving me a funny look.

    In Britain, we live in the smallest and most expensive houses in Europe. It makes caring for elderly relatives really difficult. Not aided by the “bedroom tax” for those who are at the poorer end of the scale.

    Still, as we are spending £370 million (and the rest) on the Queen’s 700 room palace in the middle of London (Scotland is getting £350 million extra in the budget) that’s one old person we won;t need to worry about.

    • grumpyscottishman

      Tris

      There are no easy solutions to any of this but we are not even making the effort to even try. The Tories will run down services to the extent that people are crying for privatisation and the Tory dream will be met and they will have made themselves and their friends wealthy forever, they will have us exactly where they want us, cradle to the grave in private health care or the poor house. I hate the Tories for what they are doing and I hate Labour and the Liberals for not doing anything about it in case it strengthens the case for independence, f joke of an opposition but long as the Windsor’s are OK the world will be fine. I despise all of them I really do.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Bruce

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