Things Fall Apart: the British Health Crisis 2010-2020

Br Med Bull. 2020 May 15;133(1):4-15. doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldz041.


Background: A very large number of studies have reported a stalling of health improvements in the UK since 2010.

Sources of data: Almost all relevant data are produced by the Office for National Statistics and other national statistical agencies.

Areas of agreement: There has been a dramatic slowdown in life expectancy and diverging trends in infant mortality in the UK as a whole and England and Wales, respectively.

Areas of controversy: Many commentators are loath to describe the falls in life expectancy as actual falls or to ascribe blame to the political situation in the UK.

Growing points: Health trends in the UK are worrying and raise important questions about government policies.

Areas timely for developing research: These findings point to a need for greater investment in research on the political determinants of health, on the timely detection and interpretation of evidence of worsening health, and on how political and policy processes respond to such findings.

Keywords: austerity; health outcomes; infant mortality; life expectancy.

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care* / standards
  • Delivery of Health Care* / trends
  • Government Regulation
  • Health Policy*
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy / trends*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / organization & administration
  • Politics
  • Public Health / trends*
  • Public Health Surveillance
  • Social Determinants of Health* / standards
  • Social Determinants of Health* / trends
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology