Thatcher legacy on health denounced

Times Series: A group of public health academics says the legacy of former PM Margaret Thatcher includes the premature death of many Britons and a continuing burden of suffering A group of public health academics says the legacy of former PM Margaret Thatcher includes the premature death of many Britons and a continuing burden of suffering

The legacy of Margaret Thatcher includes the premature death of many Britons and a continuing burden of suffering, a group of public health academics has claimed.

The experts from Durham University denounced the impact of Thatcherite policies on the well-being of the British public after they concluded their study into social inequality in the 1980s.

Unnecessary unemployment, welfare cuts and damaging housing policies are three factors they blame for the negative impact.

They also accuse the governments of Baroness Thatcher of wilfully engineering an economic catastrophe across large parts of Britain by dismantling traditional industries to undermine the power of working class organisations.

Co-author Professor Clare Bambra, from the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing at Durham University, said: "Our paper shows the importance of politics and of the decisions of governments and politicians in driving health inequalities.

"Advancements in public health will be limited if governments continue to pursue neoliberal economic policies, such as the current welfare state cuts being carried out under the guise of austerity."

The group also took aim at the coalition Government, saying it has opened up the NHS to markets and competition.

Co-author Professor David Hunter, from Durham University's Centre for Public Policy and Health, said: "Taking its inspiration from Thatcher's legacy, the coalition government has managed to achieve what Thatcher felt unable to, which is to open up the NHS to markets and competition.

"Its task was made considerably easier by the preceding Labour government which laid the foundations for the changes introduced in April 2013."

Other policies during her time as Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, such as selling off council houses, they say resulted in "a mushrooming of homelessness due to a chronic shortage of affordable social housing".

The other universities involved in the study, published in the International Journal of Health Services, were Liverpool, West of Scotland, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

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