Both subjectively and objectively, the well-being and health of people across the UK have significantly dropped. The cost of living crisis has hit the country in full force, and only now are we seeing the full extent of its impact. Within April 2023, 70 percent of households reported that their cost of living had increased from the previous months. With the increases added to essential health and hygiene services, the public has started to neglect these products in an attempt to pay for other essentials, such as energy, rent, and food. It would have been unimaginable to predict in 2019 what state the current country would be in, but we unfortunately are seeing health and income on the decline as a result of the cost of living crisis.
Why is our health being affected?
We have all seen visible signs of the cost of living impact on day-to-day essentials such as food shops and rental increases, but for the poorest among us, these changes have completely sent their lives into despair and ruin. Sacrifices have been made, one of the most sacrificial things being the time and monetary investments into our health and well-being. From NHS appointments being skipped due to the pressure they are facing, to limiting shower use to reduce monthly water bills, there are some contributing factors as to why our health is detriment due to the increase in the costs of living.
Appointments and prescriptions are being skipped
First of all, many patients are avoiding visiting essential health practices and appointments due to the increase in the cost of commuting to such practices, following the scarcity of appointments available due to the strain that has been placed on essential healthcare services. People have been advised by both the government and their health practices to only visit if essential. This of course would make sense, but as a result, people are self-diagnosing themselves using misinformation from the internet. People need to see healthcare professionals spot early diagnosis of illnesses to then take the appropriate preventive action. The decline in people visiting their doctors is putting their health at risk.
Additionally, people are also skipping picking up their prescriptions due to the increase in the cost of materials. People who are not entitled to free prescriptions are avoiding picking up their medicines to save their outgoings.
Hygiene products have become costly
Basic hygiene has become a choice rather than a necessity for people who are struggling most during this time. Is it estimated that 3.2 billion adults in Britain are facing “hygiene poverty” due to the scarce availability of affordable hygiene products? These items have become a luxury, so when households are facing the choice of putting food on the table or maintaining their hygiene, hard decisions are being made. Luckily, many of the charities supporting the lowest income households are distributing such hygiene products, however, this is still not enough. There is also embarrassment for these families, therefore a lot of households are not seeking the help they need, unfortunately.
Dental services are scarce and expensive
When discussing hygiene, our dental hygiene plays an important role in our overall health and cleanliness. With so much pressure from the NHS, dentistry practices such as Bupa have taken action to save their expenses and closed 85 of their NHS practices. These closures not only affect the workers but also the dental health of the patients who were receiving free dental care from such places.
Patients are now reluctant to visit their dentists, with only private practices such as Cheltenham Dentists available to better their dental health. Not only are dental practices increasing prices and being stained, but the cost of dental hygiene products has also vigorously risen, leaving parents neglectful of their teeth to maintain the health of their children’s dental hygiene. Data taken in 2022 suggested that 25 percent of parents have reduced the expenditure on their oral hygiene to support their children.
Nutrition is no longer a priority
Investing in our nutrition for our health and well-being has been reluctantly neglected due to the rise in the cost of living. 78 percent of people who had reported their health getting worse during this time have put it down due to the rise in food prices. There are no longer affordable nutritious foods, instead, people are left settling with cheaper, junk food that does not condense the same nutrients that a whole cooked meal would contain. Also, parents are having to make sacrifices to put food on the table for their children and limit their consumption as a result.
Sacrifices have been made
All of these factors are just highlighting the fact that our health is heavily shaped by our environment. The drops in our health standards, despite overcoming the worst pandemic we have seen for centuries, do not seem to be getting any better as time prolongs. Without our health and hygiene, we put our lives at risk. Unfortunately, households are needing to make these swaps to pay their ever-increasing energy bills, rental charges, and other essentials. There is support available to help with the cost of living crisis, so if you or anyone you know has deteriorating health as a result of its impact, ensure that you seek help.