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Great Britain

Life expectancy to fall one year, with middle classes among hardest hit 

Life expectancy is falling, Oxford University experts have warned, saying the trends could hit the middle class the hardest.

Writing in the BMJ, they revealed a 13 per cent rise in death rates in the first months of this year in England as Wales, as the NHS came under strain.

And they said “awful” increases in death rates in recent years had forced the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to revise its forecasts, reducing UK predicted life span by almost a full year.

Writing in the BMJ, they revealed an extra 10,000 deaths in the first seven weeks of this year, compared with average figures in the last five years.

And they warned that the trends may hit the middle classes hardest, especially women, as they are most likely to gain from extra years at the end of life.

The researchers called for an urgent investigation into the recent spike in deaths, which they said could not be explained by the increase in flu or the ageing population.

Prof Danny Dorling, from Oxford University, said the recent trends followed years which have shown deep dips in mortality rates.

“This is dramatic. The latest ONS data shows that people are now expected to life a year less than was thought just two years ago. That is because the years 2015 and 2016 were so awful in terms of mortality, that everything has been adjusted,” he said.

The latest projections estimate that by 2041, life expectancy for women will be 86.2 years - a drop from the 86.9 years estimated two years before.  And for men, the figure has dropped from 84.1 years to 83.4 years.

The trends could hit middle class pensioners particularly hard, he said.