Keir Starmer’s pledge to save the NHS ripped apart by staggering figures
Keir Starmer: Labour on course to win next general election
Sir Keir Starmer has made fixing the ailing NHS a key pledge of his general election bid.
In a Monday speech at an ambulance station in Essex, he said: “I don’t think the NHS survives five more years of Tory Government.”
Back in February, the Labour leader echoed the Prime Minister’s five pledges in unveiling his “five missions for a better Britain” – one of which was to “build an NHS fit for the future”.
He has now expanded on this plan, vowing to take on the three “biggest killers” by cutting heart disease, cancer and suicide deaths.
In practice, however, achieving these goals at a time when the NHS is in desperate need of staff and additional funding is going to be difficult.
Sir Keir said a Labour Government would aim to reduce deaths from cancer and suicide within five years, and bring down those from heart disease by a quarter within ten years.
Heart and circulatory diseases (CVD) cover an array of conditions from atrial fibrillation, heart failure, stroke and vascular dementia.
There are an estimated 7.6 million people with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK, according to the British Heart Foundation – around twice as many as those living with cancer and Alzheimer’s combined.
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Data show since 1961 the death rate from CVD has plummeted by over three-quarters, but they remain responsible for more than 160,000 deaths a year, equivalent to 460 each day.
The past decade has seen CVD deaths decline by just 15 percent, so Labour would need to significantly accelerate that trend to meet its target.
Someone is diagnosed with cancer every two minutes in the UK, equivalent to around 375,000 new cases annually. Only half of those diagnosed survive for ten years or more, with 167,000 dying each year, according to Cancer Research UK.
Lung, bowel, breast and prostate cancers together accounted for almost 45 percent of all cancer deaths in the UK between 2017 and 2019, with lung cancer being the most life-threatening type.
Cancer mortality peaked at 354.6 deaths per 100,000 in 1989, and had fallen by a quarter to 265.5 by 2019. National Audit Office forecasts would price the annual cost of cancer care to the NHS at £15billion.
And as for suicides, while instances may be far fewer, the declining trend reversed course in recent years, with numbers in England back to where they were 40 years ago.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the latest figures show 5,219 such deaths in 2021 – below 2019’s pre-pandemic total of 5,316 but far beyond the 2007 baseline of 4,313.
This has, however, remained in line with population growth and over the past two decades, the mortality rate associated with suicide has averaged around 10 per 100,000 population.
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