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A leading health expert has said that increases in life expectancy are ‘pretty close to having ground to a halt’.
Professor Sir Michael Marmot, director of the Institute of Health Equity at University College London said he was ‘deeply concerned’ that improvements in life expectancy have been slowing since 2010 and suggests the squeeze on the NHS and a rise in dementia may be having an impact.
Improvements in life expectancy at birth had been around a one-year increase every five years for women and every three and a half years for men.
But since 2010 the increases have halved and slowed to a one-year increase every 10 years for women and every six years for men.
Sir Marmot said: “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.”
He said that he could not draw a firm conclusion on why the rises had begun to stall and that ‘it is not inevitable that is should have levelled off’.
He raised concerns that the slow down could be as a result of ‘miserly’ spending on the health service since 2010 and the ‘troubling’ rise in dementia in recent years.
“We see the rise in dementia which is very troubling and that will require an increase in health and care spending and that’s not happening.
“I am deeply concerned that if we do not fund healthcare and social care adequately people will lead much worse lives,” he said.
He added: “Whether that translates into an increase in mortality or a failure of mortality to go down, I don’t know.”