Cost of living crisis could lead to a rise in malnutrition, gout and scurvy
Andrew Gwynne MP said the latest figures were 'shameful'
Labour has warned that the spiralling cost of living could lead to a rise in “Dickensian diseases” such as malnutrition, gout and scurvy.
It comes as provisional NHS figures show that 5,156 people were admitted to hospital with a primary or secondary diagnosis of malnutrition between September 2021 and February 2022 – more than during the whole of 2010.
Figures from HES England also reveal that other so-called “Dickensian diseases” have risen since 2010, including a 194 per cent increase in cases of gout in hospitals between 2010/11 and 2020/21.
There were almost 192,000 cases of gout recorded in hospitals in England in 2020/21. The condition is typically caused by a poor diet.
Cases of scurvy – a vitamin C deficiency – have more than doubled in the past decade.
Andrew Gwynne MP, Labour’s shadow public health minister, said the latest figures were “shameful”.
He said, “Since the Tories were elected back in 2010, we have seen foodbank use soar, and increased poverty leading to worse public health outcomes.
“We are now living through a cost of living crisis, with inflation skyrocketing and working people being hit with the biggest tax burden since the 1940s.
“If people can’t afford to heat their homes or put food on the table, they are more likely to get sick.”
Analysis by the Resolution Foundation estimated that the Chancellor’s Spring Statement could plunge a further 1.3 million people below the poverty line, leading to increased fears of diet and nutrition related illness.
The Department for Health and Social Care has said it is supporting the NHS “to tackle some of the key root causes of malnutrition” and that more than three million children are supported by the Government’s Healthy Food Schemes.
A Government spokesperson said, “We understand how the rising cost of living is making life harder for people and we are providing support worth over £22 billion in 2022 to 2023 to help families with these pressures.
“The Health and Social Care Secretary has been clear that tackling health disparities is a priority. Our Health Disparities White Paper will set out a series of impactful measures to help people live longer and happier lives in good physical and mental health.”
Joe Talora - Local Democracy Reporter
May 17, 2022