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‘Joined Up Approach By All Is Needed To Tackle Premature Death Record’, Says Lawyer

Medical Law Expert Responds To Report Published In Lancet


Medical law experts say urgent action is needed to tackle the UKs premature death record after a report revealed it is excelling against other European countries.

Between 1990 and 2010 life expectancy in the UK increased by an average of 4.2 years to 79.9 years, but when measured against other nations with similar levels of healthcare the trend shows worrying declines.

The UK's position in the death rate table (numbers of deaths per 100,000) fell from 12th in 1990 to 14th in 2010 and specific causes of death had a significantly increased impact over the two decades, including Alzheimer's disease, cirrhosis of the liver and drug use disorders.

The research published in the Lancet was the result of health data collated over 20 years compared with figures from 18 other countries.

Jeremy Hunt, who is responsible for health policy in England, says he will announce plans which aim to cut the death toll caused by the UK's five avoidable big killers - cancer, heart, stroke respiratory and liver disease.

And he wants the premature death rate in England to be slashed by 30,000 by 2020 by improving outcomes for patients with cardiovascular diseases.

Sara Burns, a Partner and medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, said: “In order to meet Mr Hunt’s target a joined up approach is needed by individuals, families, local communities, local councils, the NHS and government in all taking responsibility and working together towards a healthier population.

“What is most shocking about the results is that nearly all of the conditions named as contributing to higher death rates are preventable if recognised and treated early enough or if individuals reconsider lifestyle choices before it is too late.

“It is important this issue is tackled now before figures decline further to help people in the UK achieve the levels of health already enjoyed by other some European countries.

“We need all hospitals throughout the UK to be performing at the same top level so those individuals who do become ill do not face a postcode lottery when it comes to their care.”


Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to Medical Negligence