Legacy of Margaret Thatcher’s reign is thousands of ‘unjust’ deaths of Britons, says study

February 16, 2014 4:32 pm Comments Off on Legacy of Margaret Thatcher’s reign is thousands of ‘unjust’ deaths of Britons, says study Views: 18392

THE legacy of Margaret Thatcher’s reign as Prime Minister includes thousands of ‘unjust’ and ‘premature’ deaths of British people, a study has claimed today.

Welfare cuts, housing policies and high unemployment levels during Baroness Thatcher’s time as leader led to the loss of “many” lives according to academics.The research said the policies of the three times PM also sparked a dramatic increase in poverty rates and sparked a massive increase in income inequality.

The study also accuses Baroness Thatcher of wilfully engineering an economic catastrophe by dismantling traditional industries to undermine the power of working class organisations.

Academics from the universities of Durham, Liverpool, West of Scotland, Glasgow and Edinburgh compiled the study which was published in the International Journal of Health Services.

Dr Alex Scott-Samuel from Liverpool University said: “[Margaret Thatcher’s legacy] includes the unnecessary and unjust premature death of many British citizens, together with a substantial and continuing burden of suffering and loss of well-being.”Towards the end of the 1980s we were seeing around 5,000 excess deaths each year from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. We also know that there were 2,500 excess deaths per year as a result of unemployment caused by Thatcher’s policies.”

The study claims under Margaret Thatcher the richest 0.01 per cent of society had 28 times the mean national average income in 1978 but 70 times the average pay in 1990.

It adds that poverty rates in the UK increased from 6.7 per cent in 1975 to 12 per cent in 1985.

Housing and welfare changes are also highlighted in the paper, with policies to sell off council housing and reduce welfare payments resulting in further inequalities.

It also mentions policy changes in healthcare like the outsourcing of hospital cleaners which they said led to increases in infections on wards.

 The research said the three times PM’s policies also sparked a dramatic increase in poverty rates [AFP]
Co-author Professor Clare Bambra, from the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing at Durham University, said: “Our paper shows the importance of politics and of the decisions of governments and politicians in driving health inequalities.”Advancements in public health will be limited if governments continue to pursue neoliberal economic policies, such as the current welfare state cuts being carried out under the guise of austerity.”

The group also took aim at the coalition Government saying it has opened up the NHS to markets and competition.

Co-author Professor David Hunter, from Durham University’s Centre for Public Policy and Health, said: “Taking its inspiration from Thatcher’s legacy, the coalition government has managed to achieve what Thatcher felt unable to, which is to open up the NHS to markets and competition.

“Its task was made considerably easier by the preceding Labour government which laid the foundations for the changes introduced in April 2013.”

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