Regular readers of my blog might have spotted a vaguely familiar statement from David Cameron in last night’s Leaders Debate on ITV television.
In my post Things that bug me – Part 2 on April 2nd, I moaned about the misleading reporting in the Daily Mail England’s poor cancer detection and bad diet mean Slovenian women live longer of the Government report ‘Health Profile of England 2009′ DoH Health Profile of England
I complained amongst other thing’s of the Mail’s tendency to pick an Eastern European country at random for us to be “worse than” – in what appeared to be an attempt to capitalise on racism against Eastern Europeans for sensational effect.
It seems David Cameron must have appreciated it – last night he chose not Slovenia but Bulgaria to compare our “oh so terrible” health care with.
While there would seem to be some evidence from WHO that his statement was in essence correct – that there are more deaths from cancer in Bulgaria per head than in the UK at least according to the Sofia news agency Bulgaria Pops Up in UK Historic Debate – Sofia News Agency ; the Department of Health’s own published data (ie. the document linked to above) – which is produced in close consultation with other countries, would appear to suggest otherwise.
Check out the table 3.1 on page 61 – it quite clearly shows that UK & English cancer deaths have a lower incidence than in Bulgaria. That’s not to say that we’re ideal though – David Cameron could have said we were worse than Ireland or Italy – or better than Denmark or Spain. Whichever country he chose to compare us with would have been misleading though – because on page 49 we have a chart that tells us that “there has been a steady decline in the mortality rate [from cancer] between 2000 and 2008. It is evident that the mortality rate has decreased faster for males in recent years than for females”.
So irrespective of whether we are or are not “worse than” Bulgaria, the number of deaths from cancer, has been reducing steadily during the incumbency of the present Labour government.
So Labour’s record is unarguably better than the Conservatives’ in relation to deaths from Cancer.
If I might conjure up a phrase from the recent past : “Don’t you dare lecture us on Cancer Mr Cameron !”