Responding to the new winter survey from ONS on cost of living and difficulty accessing NHS services, Professor Martin McKee, president of the BMA said:
“‘Dickensian’ might be an overused phrase at this time of year, but we have little other language to conjure up the situation our country’s health is in. Food and shelter are the most basic foundations for good health, yet too many lack sufficient nutrition and warmth. With these numbers it looks as if our country is going to keep getting sicker with little prospect of relief in sight.
“These figures make for shocking reading, putting into sharp relief the scale of the health crisis the country now faces. 1 in 6 adults in Great Britain are worried their food will run out before they have money to buy more, with another 6% saying that it already had run out. 1 in 10 respondents said they can’t afford a balanced diet, and a third of all adults reported that cutting back on heating their home has negatively affected their health.
“The perfect storm of cold weather, eye-watering cost of living crisis and a government that has simply failed in its duty protect the health of the population for too long is now breaking over our heads. At the start of this month we said that doctors were struggling to pick up the pieces of a broken social system. As we get further into the winter the grim reality of what that looks like is becoming ever clearer. All this is on top of yet more evidence of an NHS buckling under the weight of the most severe workforce crisis in its history.
“As doctors we have to speak out. The government says it wants to be on the side of patients. But we also need it to prevent people becoming patients; to prevent those who already are patients from getting sicker because they cannot afford eating or heating.
"Ministers must do more to respond to this crisis, ensuring people are able to afford to both eat and heat their homes, to reverse the catastrophic cuts to public services caused by austerity and to invest in policies that protect and improve our health.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.