My thanks go to the finely tuned warning antennae of the Politics of Health Group (http://www.pohg.org.uk/) for spreading word of this letter in the latest British Medical Journal which can be accessed for free via:http://tinyurl.com/oo7raxk
I take my hat off to the letter’s North West authors (from University, local authority and NHS Trust) for organising and crunching the data plotting local authority cuts (2010-11 to 2014-15) against premature mortality rates and having the guts to stick their heads above the parapet and publish their simple graph via the BMJ’s open access letters page.
The graph trend suggests that those living in local authorities experiencing the greatest cuts (mainly in the North of England) are mainly also those with the highest rates of premature mortality. Their letter concludes by asking: ‘how are local authorities supposed to reduce inequalities in the face of austerity measures that are likely to do the opposite?’ At risk of sounding like a government minister, this doesn’t sound very ‘fair’ to me?
More broadly, I think this provides an excellent example of the collaborative work we should all be doing in public health (one of the authors is a local authority politician, hurrah!), how we can make good use of data already out there and, most importantly, how we must have the courage to get more political and challenge the (seemingly unstoppable) national government policy bulldozers before it’s too late!
With best wishes, Rob