New research published by The British Medical Journal has indicated that there could have been nearly 120,000 deaths in England since 2010 that could have been avoided. The study, which analysed staffing numbers, funding issues and mortality rates, warns that there could be as many as 100 deaths a day unless urgent action is taken.
A possible cause for this increase in these figures is the reduction in public funding and nursing numbers since 2010. In particular, between 2010 and 2014 NHS England increased annual funding by only 1.3%, despite rising patient demand and health care costs. In comparison, social care funding has fallen by 1.19% in the same period despite the projected increase in people living over the age of 85.
Most alarmingly, whilst deaths in England fell by an average of 0.77% between 2001 and 2010, the figures rose by an average of 0.87% each year between 2011 and 2014. Whilst the potential future impact of this remains unclear, the study suggests that statistically over 60’s and care home residents are most at risk.
So what can be done to combat this?
The study identified that changes in the numbers of hospital and community nurses were integral to this issue. The average number of nurses employed by the trust is 20 times lower between 2010 and 2014 than the previous decade. This means that additional funding is needed to increase the number of nurses required to provide this care, amongst other things.
The projected sum required to do this has been suggested to be £6.3 billion per annum and many are hoping it will be addressed by the increased funding agreed in yesterday’s budget. However, the full extent of this funding issue and whether this will affect the population health remains to be seen.