More than half (55%) of the British population say their health has deteriorated as a result of the cost of living crisis, according to a new survey.

The poll, commissioned by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), found that a quarter who said their health had gotten worse had this confirmed by a doctor or a medical professional.

In total, 84% said it was due to increased heating costs, 78% said it was a result of the rising cost of food and around half (46%) put it down to the increasing cost of transport.

Stress was found to contribute to poor health in 16% of cases, while 12% were told by a healthcare professional that their health had been made worse by the money they were having to spend on their heating and cooking.

The cost of living crisis has exacerbated health inequalities

RCP members gave various examples where their patients had suffered health consequences as a result of the cost of living crisis.

This included worsening asthma and COPD as a result of exposure to pollution and mould, one patient whose ulcers on their fingertips were made worse by her house being cold and a patient not being able to afford to travel to hospital for lung cancer investigation and treatment.

The researchers say that the findings demonstrate how the cost of living crisis has exacerbated health inequalities, and now, the Inequalities in Health Alliance (IHA) is calling for a cross-government strategy to tackle this issue.

A cross-government approach to tackling the crisis is needed

Dr Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “The cost-of-living crisis has barely begun so the fact that one in two people is already experiencing worsening health should sound alarm bells, especially at a time when our health service is under more pressure than ever before.

“The health disparities white paper due later this year must lay out plans for a concerted effort from the whole of government to reduce health inequality. We can’t continue to see health inequality as an issue for health directives to solve. A cross-government approach to tackling the underlying causes of ill health will improve lives, protect the NHS and strengthen the economy.”

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, director of the UCL Institute of Health Equity, added that sufficient income for a healthy life is “crucial” to preserving the health of the population.

“If we require anything of government, at a minimum, it is to enable people to have the means to pursue a healthy life,” he said.