Over 90 public health professionals in the UK wrote a letter to the Guardian in the week of the election criticising the outgoing coalition Government for the damage its policies had done to health.
As senior public health professionals we must draw attention to the damage that the coalition government’s policies have done to the health of the British people.
First, it placed ‘responsibility’ deals with producers of junk food and alcohol at the centre of the public health strategy. As its own evaluation confirms, these have achieved almost nothing.
Second, it has delayed action on issues such as reducing the salt hidden in food, which researchers have linked to 6.000 additional deaths.
Third, it has failed to implement minimum unit pricing for alcohol, again in the face of research evidence that this would save thousands of lives
Fourth, its austerity policies can be linked to a reversal in the long term downward trend in suicides, which have increased most where welfare cuts have been most severe. These policies have also contributed directly to a marked increase in food poverty, with growing numbers dependent on food banks.
Fifth, it has failed to address the already poor health of British children. The area where the government has made progress, such as standardised packaging for cigarettes and antimicrobial resistance , show what could have been done.
This reluctance to act, whether due to ideology, closeness to corporate interest of fears of being accused of ‘nanny state ‘ tactics, has been damaging to health and has led to many thousands of unnecessary deaths. Whatever Government is elected this week, we call on it to put evidence before ideology. The people’s health must come first.
Guardian May 4th 2015