Will the Tories ever admit their ‘welfare reforms’ are reviving Victorian diseases?

Painful deformities of the skeleton such as bowed legs: The return of rickets is another sign that the Conservative Government is regressing Britain to conditions during the primitive Victorian era - or even earlier.

Painful deformities of the skeleton such as bowed legs: The return of rickets is another sign that the Conservative Government is regressing Britain to conditions during the primitive Victorian era – or even earlier.

Social security researcher and commenter Samuel Miller thinks they are.

He wants health authorities in the UK to investigate whether the return of diseases linked to poverty – and to the Victorian era – such as gout, TB, measles, scurvy, rickets and whooping cough.

This Writer flagged up the possibility as long ago as October 2013, after the UK’s chief medical officer formally announced the return of rickets.

I wrote: “Can there be any doubt that this rise in cases has been brought about, not just by children sitting at home playing video games rather than going out in the sunlight, as some would have us believe, but because increasing numbers of children are having to make do with increasingly poor food, as Cameron’s policies hammer down on wages and benefits and force working class people and the unemployed to buy cheaper groceries with lower nutritinal value?”

Despite Tory claims that the UK is in better shape than it has been in years, it seems clear that these health issues are getting worse.

Mr Miller writes: “There’s an urgent need for health authorities to investigate whether Ian Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms, and cuts to social services, are responsible for the alarming rise in cases of malnutrition and the return of Victorian diseases.

“There is growing evidence that the draconian welfare reforms are irreparably damaging the mental and physical health of benefit claimants. Health figures recently revealed a 50% increase in the number of people admitted to hospital with malnutrition over the past four years, and a return of Victorian diseases linked to poverty such as gout, TB, measles, scurvy, rickets, and whooping cough are a barometer of failure and neglect.”

He cites these sources:

Malnutrition and ‘Victorian’ diseases soaring in England ‘due to food poverty and cuts’

Gout and malnutrition levels soaring as Victorian disease return

NHS hospital to offer food parcels to patients at risk of malnutrition

Malnutrition a public health emergency, experts warn

Who are you going to believe? Tory rhetoric or demonstrable evidence?

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  1. Jane Jacques October 31, 2015 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    There may well be an increase in malnutrition recently. With reforms and sanctions increases food intake cannot be good among certain groups. Scurvy could easily make a comeback here.

    Measles and whooping cough are vaccine preventable diseases. If these are increasing then other factors should be looked at eg a fall in MMR rates, even if historical, as rates fell when the vaccine was wrongly thought to cause autism.

    With rickets vitamin D deficiency is very common as most is derived from sunlight, and that is difficult in Britain being so far north. Supplements are advised for many people, eg the elderly, and vitamin drops are available for children under 5 years on the NHS.

    Even if people are fed is it acceptable for that food to be from food banks in such a rich country?

    • wildswimmerpete November 1, 2015 at 12:07 pm - Reply

      During the 1800s and the first half of the 20th century, rickets was correctly attributed to a lack of sunshine because of smoke pollution, a problem that abated when the Clean Air laws were passed during the 1950s. Furthermore, margarine and other spreads have been fortified with Vitamin D since the end of WWII. The only problem with fortification it’s Vit D2, which is much less readily utilised by the body than Vit D3, which is the variant we make under our skins upon exposure to solar UV. D3 is quite expensive if taken as a supplement. Another supplement I was given as a infant was Virol, malt extract with cod-liver oil. I still hate cod-liver oil but I couldn’t get enough Virol – Boots still stock Potter’s Malt and Cod-liver Oil. I disagree somewhat with Mike about youngsters sitting in their rooms playing games in their rooms. During the 1950s when I was an infant I was allowed to play outdoors all day. Nowadays those same under 10s are confined behind the locked gates of the family’s little CCTV surveilled fortress, not allowed to walk or cycle to school because we’ve turned over our social space to the great god Car, with Tarquin and Tabatha ferried the few hundred yards to their prison……sorry, school in Mumsie’s 4×4 urban assault vehicle. Talking of schools, my local junior school has tall steel palisade fencing all around it, the only things missing are the watchtowers and machine gun nests. Of course nowadays there’s a slavering paedophile hiding behind every bush, at least according to our toilet-paper tabloids.

      Other reasons for our lack of exposure to natural sunlight:
      1.) We’ve been “educated” by “experts” to believe that exposing any skin to the sun will lead to a nasty death from melanoma. That ridiculous Australian ” slip,slop, slap” campaign actually led to a significant INCREASE of the incidence of melanoma. The problem with we Britons is that we sit in offices for 50 weeks then we go on holiday to the Med, lie on a beach for a fortnight frying under the midday sun. That’s just asking for skin cancer. And of course the irony, that sunscreen that we are told to slather over any exposed skin…………wait for it……….contains UV dyes that are themselves carcinogenic. You couldn’t make it up.
      2.)There are cultural factors involved. Strict Muslims in particular stay covered all of the time, avoiding exposure to any sunlight. Likewise there has been an increase in incidence of symptoms of Vit D deficiency in the Asian community for the same reason.

      Nowadays we are beginning to see some sense about sun exposure. Dermatologists are now advising moderate exposure to natural sunlight avoiding the midday sun, with 30 mins exposure resulting in production of enough Vit D to meet our daily requirement. I use a mercury-arc sunlamp during the winter, the spectrum of which resembles natural sunlight with the correct proportions of UVA and UVB. Furthermore my exposure is timed and is for a few minutes at a time. On the other hand the spectrum of sunbeds is tailored for tanning, not the production of Vit D. There doesn’t seem to be any attempt to advise prospective sunbed users of the associated risks of burning that could lead to skin cancer. Put it this way, I won’t use a sunbed – period.

      As an inveterate sunbather over the past 60 years and despite my being fair-skinned and freckled top to toe my GP assures me that my complexion is that of a man 10 years younger. I’ve researched into the action of UV irradiation, Vit D and cancer risks – my scientific background includes chemistry.

  2. AndyH October 31, 2015 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    Taking away someone’s JSA (£65) costs a fortune – as they are likely to end up in hospital. We need to keep screaming this until it is heard. Which is why we need blogs like Vox Political and Another Angry Voice to explode – government policy is driven by the media owned by Murdoch, the Barclays, Viscount Rothermere and Desmond – social media is the only way we can stop people being convinced to vote against their own interests. (Why so many people are against welfare is beyond me – anyone can become ill or lose their job).

    Keep up the great work Mike!

  3. Bookworm November 1, 2015 at 6:31 am - Reply

    Another factor in return of measles/whooping cough may be that with families forced to move continuously through insecure tenancies, social cleansing etc they aren’t under any gp practice long enough to have vaccinations. That is of course if they can find a gp with which to register.

  4. NMac November 1, 2015 at 8:55 am - Reply

    The Tories openly admit that they regard the 19th century as some sort of golden era, which of course, for the tiny few at the top, it was. They are taking us forward to the 19th century, so we should not be surprised to see the return of the squalid and unhealthy conditions for vast numbers of people.

  5. Chris Kitcher November 1, 2015 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    Of course this will only get worse as the public health function in every area is now under the control of local councils who are having much more severe cuts to their budgets than the NHS.

    As an retired Environmental Health Officer rickets is very disturbing to me as the increased hours that people are forced to work means that, especially in these climates, exposure to sunlight in the winter becomes almost impossible.

    Added to this the intermittent access to a GP and the lack of a decent diet is very quickly returning the UK to the eighteenth century.

    Decades of improving health for everyone is being destroyed by this callous government who have no compassion and only contempt for the poor.

  6. geavox November 1, 2015 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    Sadly all the links to the sources return a 404 Error :(

    • Mike Sivier November 1, 2015 at 11:01 pm - Reply

      Really? I’ll check that and try to sort it out.

  7. Dan November 2, 2015 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    I think there seems to be a misunderstanding of the physiology of Vitamin D. Vitamin D3 is created by the action of sunlight on Vitamin D2 in the skin. The prime causes of Vitamin D3 deficiency in the past were smog and extensive clothing in Victorian London. Even in Victorian times the causes of “cock-knee” were probably not dietary. The recent rise is more likely linked to immigration as there are more people with darker skin or from cultures where clothing is more likely to cover the whole body. Both of these will prevent the conversion of D2 to D3. So the resurgence of Vitamin D deficiency may imply increasing multiculturalism rather than malnutrition. I am not a fan of the Conservative party but am a critic of those who misunderstand and/or misapply science to further their own preformed viewpoints.

    • Mike Sivier November 2, 2015 at 8:51 pm - Reply

      Are there any other similarly well-informed opinions?

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