Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Data Briefing

Death: avoiding the unavoidable?

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 14 September 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4912
  1. John Appleby, chief economist
  1. Nuffield Trust, London W1G 7LP, UK
  1. john.appleby{at}

John Appleby examines the trends in death rates and what might lie behind them

What, as the leaders of the People’s Front for Judea could have asked, has healthcare ever done for health? The answer, as the Judean People’s Front have said is, quite a lot actually. But could it do more? According to the latest figures on deaths avoidable or amenable to current healthcare technologies the answer is yes. In 2014 an estimated 116 500 deaths (nearly a quarter of all deaths) in England and Wales could possibly have been avoided through health or public health interventions.1 This is now the second year in a row in which observed avoidable deaths have slightly increased—bucking a trend (apart from 2008) since 2001 (fig 1). Is this chance variation or the start of a new trend, one perhaps …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription