UK cancer deaths above EU average as life expectancy falls

New funding for Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is to replace existing MRI machines, CT scanners and breast screening equipment. 

The equipment, the government claims, will improve the quality of screening and speed of diagnosis, with clinicians finding the machines more effective and easier to use.

The £200 million of new funding is part of the government’s commitment to ensure 55,000 more people survive cancer each year.

Announcing the initiative, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “The NHS is the best healthcare service in the world, and the treatment and care it provides is one reason cancer survival rates are at a record high."

The reality, however, is somewhat different. The biggest killer of all is lung cancer, which claimed the lives of more than 273,000 Europeans in 2015. Over 35,000 of these deaths occurred in the UK: of the other 27 EU member states, only Germany had a higher death rate than Britain.

The average death rate from lung cancer across the EU in that year was 54.0 per 100,000 persons. In the UK it was 59.7.

The UK death rates from breast and prostate cancers were also above the EU average figure for that year.

Against a global trend, the UK also reports a declining life expectancy.

The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, which calculates life expectancy on behalf of the UK pensions industry said it now expects men aged 65 to die at 86.9 years, down from its previous estimate of 87.4 years, while women who reach 65 are likely to die at 89.2 years, down from 89.7 years.

Some analysts blame austerity and cuts in NHS spending, others point to worsening obesity, dementia and diabetes.

Whatever the reasons, the UK is the only EU member state to report a fall in life expectancy. 

The "best healthcare service in the world", Mr. Johnson?

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

Gary's latest book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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