The harsh austerity plan rolled out under consecutive Conservative governments has been linked to 120,000 deaths in Britain.
According to a damning landmark study there were 45,000 more deaths in the first four years of Tory-led efficiencies than would have been expected if funding had stayed at pre-election levels.
On this trajectory that could rise to nearly 200,000 excess deaths by the end of 2020.
The study, published in BMJ Open today, identified that mortality rates in the UK had declined steadily from 2001 to 2010, but this reversed sharply with the death rate growing again after austerity came in.
From this reversal the authors identified that 45,368 extra deaths occurred between 2010 and 2014, than would have been expected, although it stops short of calling them “avoidable”.
Based on those trends it predicted the next five years – from 2015 to 2020 – would account for 152,141 deaths – 100 a day – findings which one of the authors likened to “economic murder”.
The papers’ senior author and a researcher at UCL, Dr Ben Maruthappu, said that while the paper “can’t prove cause and effect” it shows an association.
“When you look at Portugal and other countries that have gone through austerity measures, they have found that health care provision gets worse and health care outcomes get worse,” he told The Independent.
Co-author Professor Lawrence King of the Applied Health Research Unit at Cambridge University added: “It is now very clear that austerity does not promote growth or reduce deficits – it is bad economics, but good class politics.
“This study shows it is also a public health disaster. It is not an exaggeration to call it economic murder.”
The Department of Health stressed that this study cannot be used to draw any firm conclusions about the cause of excess deaths.
In a statement, it said: “The NHS is treating more people than ever before and funding is at record levels with an £8bn increase by 2020-21. We’ve also backed adult social care with £2bn investment and have 12,700 more doctors and 10,600 more nurses on our wards since May 2010.”