Starmer criticises rate of ‘Victorian era’ diseases under Sunak

Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, has slammed the newfound rise in cases of malnutrition, rickets and scurvy during the first 12 months of Rishi Sunak’s leadership. 

Starmer referred to findings by LBC, using figures obtained from 84 NHS trusts and health boards through Freedom of Information Requests. 

The study found there have been at least 13,000 diagnoses of malnutrition, 15,000 of rickets and more than 150 cases of scurvy in the first 12 months of Sunak’s time as Prime Minister.

London’s Royal Free Hospital was found to have the third highest number of reports of rickets in the UK, with 2,169 cases from 2019 to 2023.

In response to the statistics, Starmer said: “That’s shocking.

“In 21st Century Britain, we’re talking about an increased number of children with malnutrition – of course that’s something the government should be ashamed of.”

Rickets is a health condition caused by a lack of Vitamin D and dietary deficiency, resulting in weakened bones, whilst malnutrition also stems from a nutrient-lacking diet. 

New research by London’s largest food redistribution charity has found almost 9 in 10 support services are concerned about increasing demand in 2024.

In a survey, The Felix Project found 89% of the community organisations they support said they were expecting to see an increase in demand, of which 58% said it will be a significant rise.

‘SHOCKING’: Data from The Felix Project shows the extent of food insecurity in London during the cost-of-living crisis

CEO of the charity, Charlotte Hill, said: “These results really demonstrate the immense amount of pressure being felt by so many of those charities working on the frontline to feed people facing food insecurity and hunger. 

“It’s clear, too, that many people in London are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. 170,000 working people in London had to turn to a food support service for the first-time last year to ensure they could feed their children.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said, “It is a clinical fact that in the UK the main causes of malnutrition are not solely due to poor or inadequate eating, while recent NHS data demonstrates there has been no significant rise in hospital admissions for these conditions since 2016.

“We are determined to support people to have a healthy and balanced diet and through our healthy food schemes – Healthy Start, Nursery Milk and the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme – the government is helping more than three million children and providing a nutritional safety net to those who need it the most.”

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