Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:55 pm on 14th May 2019.

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Photo of Jon Ashworth Jon Ashworth Shadow Secretary of State for Health 3:55 pm, 14th May 2019

I beg to move,

That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that she will be graciously pleased to give directions that the following papers be laid before Parliament: any briefing papers or analysis provided to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care or his Ministers since 9 July 2018 including impact assessments of public health spending reductions and any assessments made on falling life expectancy and the minutes of all discussions between the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England on funding pay risks for Agenda for Change staff working on public health services commissioned by local authorities.

A child born at this very moment in the very poorest of communities—whether in inner cities like Manchester or my own city, Leicester, or in towns such as Blackpool or Burnley—will have a life expectancy that is around nine years lower than that of a child born at this very moment in some of the wealthiest communities, such as Chelsea, Westminster or east Dorset, and they will enjoy 18 fewer healthy years of life. Two babies born today could have years of difference in life expectancy and years of difference in healthy living, due entirely to the circumstances into which they are born. The child born in the very poorest of areas is more likely to leave school obese and almost 70% more likely to be admitted to A&E. That child is less likely to receive measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations, more likely to take up smoking as a teenager, and more likely to need the help of specialist mental health services at some point.

Of course, health inequalities have always existed, throughout the 71-year history of the national health service, but nine years of desperate, grinding austerity have brought us record food bank usage and in-work poverty, and seen child poverty increase to 4 million, with 123,000 children today growing up homeless in temporary accommodation—a 70% increase since 2010. Some 4,700 of our fellow citizens sleep rough on our streets, an increase of 15%, and, tragically, nearly 600 of them die on our streets. There have also been savage cuts to public services, including social care, which have left 600,000 elderly and vulnerable people without support. We have seen nine years of all that, and we should be shocked, because the advances in life expectancy that we all take for granted and that have steadily improved for 100 years are grinding to a halt.