Tag Archives: gout

Universal Credit is increasing ‘Victorian’ diseases while worsening the nurse shortage

This is a 64-year-old man from Birkenhead whose experience of Universal Credit left him so malnourished he weighed just six stone when he was finally rescued and taken to hospital [Image from Pride’s Purge, using material from Terry Craven’s Facebook page].

This is the reality of Conservative politics – they simultaneously make serious problems worse while deliberately reducing the nation’s ability to combat them.

So once again we are hearing that the so-called “Victorian” diseases are on the rise. More than 800 people in the northeast of England were admitted to hospital with diseases including gout, tuberculosis, malnutrition, whooping cough, measles, scurvy, typhoid, scarlet fever, diphtheria, mumps, rickets, cholera, and vitamin D deficiency during the 2017-18 financial year.

Many are linked with malnutrition and they are called “Victorian” diseases because they were most common during the poverty-ridden years of the 19th century.

The current epidemic has been linked with the Conservative government’s abuse of the benefits system, as enacted through Universal Credit.

To provide an idea of how that link can be made, let’s look at the case of Harry Dent, who cannot read, write or use a computer. He was moved onto Universal Credit and immediately fell into debt because he did not understand the housing benefit element was paid direct to him, to pass on to his landlord – and in monthly, rather than fortnightly instalments. Nobody told him.

He tried to get his finances under control by taking out a £750 advance on his benefit – but is now having to pay it back, meaning he has even less money on which to survive. He has been left with £50 per week to pay his bills and buy food, leaving him with the classic dilemma of choosing between heating and eating.

While he has attended a food bank, he lives under the spectre of malnutrition.

He says Universal Credit discriminates against people with learning difficulties as claimants must be able to use a computer, read, write, have an email account, remember passwords and remember appointments.

And his mental health has suffered as a result of being put onto the harmful “benefit” – claiming he sometimes feels like “jumping off a bridge”.

You may remember Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd saying only one or two people have ever fallen into serious difficulty because of Universal Credit. Well, Harry’s is just one of the many stories that have come to public attention in the last week. You can read more of his story here.

So we have a system that intentionally puts people in danger of malnutrition, and of falling prey to the “Victorian” illnesses listed above. It might be possible to deal with this if the health service was fully-staffed, with well-trained and capable nurses.

Shame we’re being starved of that resource by the same “benefit”, isn’t it?

Trainee nurses lose hundreds of pounds when they claim Universal Credit because, under the new system, their student loans are classed as income. Read the facts here.

It means many trainee nurses are unable to complete their studies – depriving the health service of their skills. Perhaps it’s one reason the health service in England is hiring only one person for every 400 jobs advertised.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is said to have advised students to avoid claiming Universal Credit until they absolutely have to – until it is rolled out in their home area.

But despite Amber Rudd having paused the rollout recently, this is not a solution to the problem.

It seems malnutrition, “Victorian” diseases and the lack of nurses to help treat them are all part of the same problem – a problem called Conservative government.

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Malnutrition and ‘Victorian’ disease return – because of rising poverty driven by the Tories

161206-food-bank
The numbers aren’t huge at the moment, but they are significant – between 2010 and 2014, malnutrition in Salford rose from 43 cases to 85.

The longer we have a Conservative government, the worse it is going to get.

This Blog predicted the problem all the way back in December 2012, when I wrote: “In the UK, there are currently 13 million people living below the poverty line [including] working people, whose income does not cover their costs; the unemployed, who are finding they do not have enough money to buy food due to the vicious and unwarranted benefit cuts thrust upon them… and of course the homeless, a sector of society that is due to grow exponentially, again due to the many cuts inflicted by the bloodthirsty Conservatives.

“As a consequence of the rise in poverty, overseen and orchestrated by Mr Cameron and his lieutenant Iain Duncan Smith in the Department for Work and Pensions, the classic poverty-related diseases of rickets and tuberculosis are on the increase. In 2012, the Conservatives have achieved their aim to revive the Dickensian Christmas.”

Almost a year later, the UK’s chief medical officer announced the formal return of rickets. One may presume that the disease, while present, did not exist in great enough numbers prior to this but, thanks to the policies of David Cameron, Theresa May and the Tories, that had changed.

This time, 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 nutritional value?

“The Tory wage-crushing policy has been ignorant in the extreme… as it has created an extra burden on the NHS. Preventative measures ‘could save the economy billions’.”

More than three decades of neoliberal political rule had had a devastating effect on the nation’s children, I wrote. While our mortality rate for 0-14 year olds was among the best in Europe during the 1980s, it was now among the worst, with five more children dying every day than in the best-performing country, Sweden.

The highest death rates were in deprived areas – in the northwest, northern cities and some of London’s poorer boroughs, with 21.1 deaths per 100,000 people under 17.

I also wrote that the then-government seemed hell-bent on ensuring that predictions of a rise in tuberculosis would come true as well, with its plan to tackle the phantom problem of “health tourism” (see how long that little nonsense has been floating around?) deterring temporary migrants from seeking treatment when they first fell ill.

By October last year, the list of ‘Victorian’ diseases re-surfacing in the UK had increased to include gout, TB, measles, scurvy, rickets and whooping cough.

Social security researcher and commenter – and stalwart friend of This Blog – Samuel Miller called on local authorities to investigate the return of these diseases.

He told us: “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,” – and referred to a list of articles which may be found here.

And now Salford council has answered the request, telling us what we all knew – and what we all feared.

Back in 2014, I wrote something that, while accurate then, seems even more true now, so I make no apology for repeating it here:

In the Bible, Jesus is quoted as saying, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not” – meaning he did not want his disciples to stop youngsters from hearing his teachings.

That saying may now be re-worked to fit the philosophy of Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt to read: “Suffer, little children – for you have a Conservative government.”

The number of malnutrition cases in Salford has doubled – with many of the victims children.

Victorian illnesses such as rickets and beriberi – thought to be long eradicated – are on the rise due to food poverty according to a shocking new report.

The number of people being admitted to hospital with the condition doubled over a four year period.

Although health conditions are often a primary cause, Salford council leaders believes that poverty is also to blame.

Source: Salford children are suffering malnutrition and Victorian diseases as poverty tightens its grip on the city

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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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Rickets returns, Observer? Tell us something we DON’T know!

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

Thanks to Unemployed in Tyne and Wear for pointing out this Observer article:

“Poverty is forcing people to have dangerously poor diets and is leading to the return of rickets and gout – diseases of the Victorian age that affect bones and joints – according the UK Faculty of Public Health.

“The public health professionals’ body will call for a national food policy, including a sugar tax, as concerns rise over malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies in British children. It will also appeal for all political parties to back a living wage to help combat the illnesses.

“Doctors and hospitals are seeing a rise in children suffering from ailments caused by poor diet and the faculty has linked the trend to people’s inability to afford quality food. Latest figures show there has been a 19% increase in people hospitalised in England and Wales for malnutrition over the past 12 months but experts say this is only the extreme end.”

The shocking aspect of this article is that it has taken reporters at The Observer so long to realise what is going on; Vox Political pointed out the rise of this problem almost two years ago!

In the article The rise of food banks and the fall of the Big Society, published on December 22, 2012, VP stated: “As a consequence of the rise in poverty, overseen and orchestrated by Mr Cameron and his lieutenant Iain Duncan Smith in the Department for Work and Pensions, the classic poverty-related diseases of rickets and tuberculosis are on the increase. In 2012, the Conservatives have achieved their aim to revive the Dickensian Christmas.”

Nearly a year after that – and almost a year ago – in October 2013, The Independent cottoned on to the fact that standards of health were in relapse.

Vox Political‘s article ‘Compassionate’ Conservatism’s three ‘R’s – reading, writing and… rickets? (October 24, 2013) had this to say: “David Cameron’s quest to bring the Victorian era back to life in the 21st century reached a new milestone this week when the UK’s chief medical officer formally announced the return of a disease long thought banished from these shores: Rickets.

“The disease was thought to have been eradicated in the UK but, in a damning indictment of modern political priorities, chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies has admitted that 40 per cent of our children – that’s two-fifths of all the children in the country – now have some kind of vitamin D deficiency. Current figures for full-blown rickets are not available.”

It continued: “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?

“The Tory wage-crushing policy has been ignorant in the extreme, according to Dame Sally’s report, as it has created an extra burden on the NHS. Preventative measures ‘could save the economy billions’.

“The neglect created in our health system by more than three decades of neoliberal political rule has had a devastating effect on the nation’s children. According to Dame Sally, while our mortality rate for 0-14 year olds was among the best in Europe during the 1980s, it is now among the worst, with five more children dying every day than in the best-performing country, Sweden.

“The highest death rates are in deprived areas – in the northwest, northern cities and some of London’s poorer boroughs, with 21.1 deaths per 100,000 people under 17.

“Dame Sally said: ‘I think this is something, as a country, we should feel profoundly ashamed about – I do.'”

The most damning aspect of the Observer article was the comment from Carmel McConnell, founder of the Magic Breakfast charity, which provides a free breakfast to 8,500 British schoolchildren in need each morning.

She said teachers in the schools where she worked expected to see a dramatic decline in the health of their pupils as they return after the holidays: “Teachers tell us they know even with free school meals it will take two to three weeks to get their kids back up to the weight they were at the end of the last school term because their families cannot afford the food during the holidays.”

Dr John Middleton of the Faculty of Public Health placed the blame squarely on the Coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. He said in the Observer article: “Food prices up 12 per cent, fuel prices up double-figure percentages and wages down is a toxic combination, forcing more people to eat unhealthily.”

The Vox Political article of October last year ended with a re-worked Biblical quotation, changed to fit the modern philosophy of David Cameron and his Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. Considering the latest findings, it is even more appropriate today: “Suffer, little children – for you have a Conservative government.”

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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