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Austerity, not influenza, caused the UK’s health to deteriorate. Let’s not make the same mistake again
  1. Lucinda Hiam1,2,
  2. Danny Dorling3,
  3. Martin McKee2
  1. 1 University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  2. 2 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  3. 3 School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Lucinda Hiam, University of Oxford, Honorary Research Fellow, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK; Lucinda.hiam{at}; lucinda.hiam1{at}

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Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, England and Wales had seen stalling life expectancy, rising infant mortality rates, increasing mid-aged mortality (including so-called deaths of despair) and tightening restrictions on access to healthcare.1 Spikes in age-standardised mortality rates have been, by many, attributed almost wholly to influenza, though the evidence does not support this.

As we enter winter 2020 with a health and social care service that has endured a decade of insufficient funding, a population whose health has been worsened by austerity, and now a pandemic, let’s …

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  • Twitter Martin McKee @martinmckee, Lucinda Hiam @lu_hiam and Danny Dorling @dannydorling.

  • Contributors DD conceived the idea and prepared the graph. LH wrote the draft of the letter, which MM and DD reviewed and edited.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.