Elderly women 'suffer most' as services cut

By Matthew Bates 19/07 Updated: 19/07 09:28

ELDERLY women are at risk of 'devastating' suffering because of public sector cuts, a University of Warwick report has found.

A study - published today (Thursday) - found cuts to social care, public transport, welfare benefits, advice services and healthcare had all played their part in threatening the health of elderly women in Coventry.

Unemployment among women over 50 in the city has jumped nearly 75 per cent since 2008, while 924 public sector jobs were lost between October 2010 and June 2011.

The report claimed the changes risked increased poverty, stress and anxiety - and social isolation - which are all linked to health problems.

It claimed cuts in health spending have resulted in increased cancellation of hospital appointments at University Hospital as well as longer waits for appointments, early discharge from hospital and difficulty getting to see a GP.

Cuts in social care and changes to public transport both risked the mental and physical wellbeing of older people, it added, while alterations to the benefits system strengthened the link between poverty and ill health.

Report co-author, Dr James Harrison of the University of Warwick’s Centre for Human Rights in Practice, said: "The combined impact of cuts to benefits and services forms a serious risk to the health of many of the poorest and most vulnerable older women.

"Public authorities both nationally and here in Coventry have legal obligations to promote equality and protect human rights.

"They need to take these obligations very seriously when making decisions about budget cuts."

Mary-Ann Stephenson, report co-author and co-ordinator of Coventry Women’s Voices, added: "Far from getting off lightly older women are finding that the spending cuts are bad for their health."

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