Life expectancy in the UK has stopped increasing for the first time since 1982, show new data released by the Office for National Statistics.
Overall, life expectancy at birth in the UK did not improve over the 2015 to 2017 period, remaining at 79.2 years for males and 82.9 years for females, according to the figures.
Moreover, for some areas in the country the figure actually took a downturn, declining by 0.1 years for males and females in Scotland and Wales, and for males in Northern Ireland.
“The slowdown in life expectancy improvements in the UK has continued, as 2015 to 2017 saw the lowest improvements in life expectancy since the start of the series in 1980 to 1982,” said Sophie Sanders, Centre for Ageing and Demography at the ONS.
“This slowing in improvements is reflected in the chances of surviving to age 90 years from birth, which has also seen virtually no improvement since 2012 to 2014,” she added.
"Poverty, austerity and cuts to public services are impacting on how long people are living in the UK," Dr Kingsley Purdam, senior lecturer in social research methods and statistics at the University of Manchester, told BBC News Online.
"We all need to look after our health but many of us, including the most vulnerable populations, need help at a time when evidence suggests that services are being cut.”
However, Prof Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, told the publication: "We still do not know how much this is a result of direct health effects such as flu epidemics, how much is a result of social and economic factors, and how much is a failure to go on improving smoking cessation or other preventive measures”.
The Guardian reported Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, as calling the figures were “deeply depressing”.
“It’s hard to attribute precise cause and effect, but the fact we are seeing this trend at the same time as our health and care services are under such acute strain is surely more than a coincidence,” she said.
“The government has recently announced a 10 year bonus for the NHS but continues to look the other way as our care system effectively disintegrates, leaving well over a million older people with some unmet need for care.”