The Financial Crisis: What Affect Did It Have On People’s Health?

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You don’t normally think about money affecting health- not directly, anyway. In the UK, we don’t have to worry too much about our healthcare since we have the NHS and all of our treatments and hospital care is for free, unlike in many other countries where you need to build up good medical insurance.

So you would think that good care would have continued in spite of a financial crisis, right? Wrong!

During the financial crisis, and to some extent in recent years too, there were constraints for all companies, the NHS included. This meant that lots of tough decisions needed to be made around what the NHS could afford to pay if they wanted to avoid long waiting lists, poorer care and greater costs. During the recession, a 15 billion pound budget shortfall was expected (which means they had access to £15 billion pounds less than they had budgeted for). That’s a massive amount!

And it of course meant that they needed to cut jobs to save money, which impacted on medical care and services.

There were lots of others ways it affected health too:

  • It had a massive effect on mental health and suicide rates. Lots of people lost their jobs and their homes, which lead to an increase in stress and depression. It is estimated that there were possible 30- 40,000 additional suicide attempts during the recession period. (Source: http://www.awp.nhs.uk/media/757861/policyreport-3-suicide-recession.pdf)
  • It affected nutrition, as many people could not afford to sustain the diets they had previously.
  • Alcoholism also increased as an impact of stress and anxiety.

There is still a lot of talk about the NHS being in debt. Do you think this is as a result of the 2008 financial crisis or are there other reasons?

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