A few months ago it was announced that, for the first time in a long time, life expectancy in Scotland had stagnated. Mr Tomkins was quick to imply that blame lay with the Scottish government.
The Deputy First Minister will know that life expectancy levels in the east end of Glasgow are dramatically lower than those in other, more affluent parts of the city. The Commonwealth games offered an unparalleled opportunity to take specific action to reduce health inequalities and mortality rates in the neighbourhoods that hosted the games, yet it seems that no targets were set to achieve that. The London boroughs that hosted the 2012 Olympics set themselves the explicit target of narrowing the gap between male and female life expectancies in the east end and those in the rest of London. Does the Deputy First Minister agree that Glasgow should follow London’s lead on that? What actions will the Scottish ministers take to address the health inequalities that persist in Glasgow?
Today, we note that the same observation has been made about life expectancy in England.
Rising rates of life expectancy are grinding to a halt in England after more than 100 years of continuous progress, says a leading health expert.
University College London expert Sir Michael Marmot said he was “deeply concerned” by the situation, calling it “historically highly unusual”.
He said it was “entirely possible” austerity was to blame and said the issue needed looking at urgently.
But the government said its policies were not responsible.
The Department of Health said ministers were providing the necessary support and funding to ensure life expectancy “continues to increase”.
Going back to Mr Tomkins’ query, I’m a little bemused as to why he thinks we would have seen an increase in life expectancy so soon after the Olympics or the Commonwealth games. The “healthy” legacy in terms of increase in sporting participation was not designed, in either London or Glasgow, for those who might be in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Rather, it was directed towards the young.
We won’t be able to tell for many a year whether this has worked to lengthen life, the main benefactors of the sporting legacy being likely still to be in their teens and 20s. However, the Scottish professor might like to note that (according to Wikipedia) :
Criticisms and concerns:
Criticism of the London 2012 legacy includes the legacy not meeting its original ambitions with a decrease in 2014/15 in the number of people playing sport for at least half an hour a week of 125,100.
A report on the legacy of the Commonwealth games (dated 2015) shows an increase in some sporting participation. Does anyone know if that has been maintained? It could well be that Scotland has followed the English legacy, despite the spending of a considerable amount to try to encourage young people into sport. At the end of the day regardless of nationality, no matter how many facilities you provide, if young people prefer video games to actual physical exercise, there is not a lot anyone can do about about it.
It also seems appropriate to point out that as we helped to pay for the Olympics in London, we should also have been on the receiving end of the legacy from the English games.
I’d like to suggest that in all probability, the reasons for the levelling out of life expectancy are far more complex than could be covered in this post, but that one of the many contributing factors might be austerity which has been forced upon people from the four nations of the UK by the Conservative government in London.
Whatcha say Mr Tomkins?