By Charlie Kimber
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2810

Most people’s ‘healthy life expectancy’ falls short of retirement age

The new figures underline the need to build a fightback against the Tories and cost of living crisis
Issue 2810
Strike to beat the NHS crisis

Ambulances are delayed due to Tory cuts (Pic: Martin Addison/Flickr)

Fewer than one in 10 men, and only 16 percent of women, in Britain are likely to be in good health by the time they reach retirement. That is according to new research from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank. 

Most people’s “healthy life expectancy” falls short of the state pension age, which is currently 66 and will rise to 67 by 2028. The rising pension age will not just cut the number of years in retirement. The extra time worked, and the increasing pace and intensity of work, mean fewer years of healthy retirement.

Many people can “look forward” to retirement in poverty and with ill health. The IPPR’s Chris Thomas said it’s “shocking so many people don’t even make it to retirement age before the effects of ill health start to take a toll”. “The fact that it is the poorest that are likely to suffer ill health earlier shows that this is preventable,” he added.

The research, in partnership with Future Health consultancy, underlies the long-term effects of the pandemic. It says, “Over a million people have been forced from the labour market—400,000 for health-related factors, including the increase in long-term illness since 2020.” And the crisis in the NHS will make the attacks on working class people worse.

Over 380,000 patients waited more than 12 hours in A&E last year, new figures show, amid claims “misleading” public data masks the true scale of the problem. A Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) report shows 381,991 people across 74 trusts waited half a day or longer from the time they arrived at hospital in 2021.

The figures are 14 times higher than the official numbers published by the NHS due to the different ways waiting times are measured. They say 25,553 people waited more than 12 hours during the same period at the same trusts. 

While NHS England publishes data every month, it only shows how long patients have waited after a decision by doctors to admit them. Experts claim this is misleading and have called for the NHS to publish the figures from point of arrival instead.

It comes after The Independent news site revealed leaked data in May. It shows that more than 3,000 patients a day were regularly facing 12-hour waits in the first four months of 2022.

Dr Adrian Boyle, RCEM vice president, said the new figures were “staggering”. And he said they “make clear that measuring 12-hour waits from decision to admit masks the reality facing patients and staff”. 

The fightbacks over pay that are brewing now can also be part of a wider defence of working class people’s lives and welfare services.

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