Figures Show 20-Year Gap Between Healthy Life Expectancy Across UK

Group of senior friends chatting
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Group of senior friends chatting

Health inequalities are "deeply embedded" across Britain, a charity has said after new figures showed a wide variation in the number of years people can expect to live healthy lives.

New Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show a two-decade gap between "healthy life expediencies".

Male residents of Rutland in the East Midlands can expect to live 71.8 years of their lives in good health.

But men who live in Tower Hamlets in London have a healthy life expectancy of just 54 years, the ONS said.

Women in the Orkney Islands have a healthy life expectancy of 74.6 years.

And the lowest healthy life expediencies for women are in Antrim and Newtown Abbey, Northern Ireland, where women can expect just 51.4 years in good health.

Commenting on the figures, Janet Morrison, chief executive of the charity Independent Age, said: "Health inequalities are deeply embedded in the UK.

"It should not be acceptable that people in an area like Rutland can expect nearly 72 years of good health while those in Tower Hamlets can expect only 54 years.

"At a time when funding for the NHS and social care is extremely stretched, improving healthy life expectancy in all areas of the UK is essential if we want to reduce the costs of an ageing population.

"If we have a public health and care system that helps people to live longer lives in better health, it is better for them, but also better for everyone."

The new ONS figures show that newborn baby boys can expect to live for 79.2 years and a newborn baby girl 82.9 years if mortality rates remain the same as they were in the UK in 2013–2015.

The figures also highlight regional differences between life expediencies, with men in Kensington and Chelsea expected to live 83.4 years while those in Glasgow are expected to live 73.4 years.

Women in Hart in the south east of England have a life expectancy of 86.7 years while those in West Dunbartonshire can expect to live to 78.7.

The ONS said that women continue to have higher life expectancy estimates than men, but males live a higher proportion of their lives in good health and disability-free.

Sarah Caul, senior health researcher at the ONS, said: "Improvements to healthcare and living healthier lives means that as a nation we are living longer and newborn boys and girls can expect to live for 79 and 83 years respectively.

"However, while we are living longer we are spending a smaller proportion of our overall lives in good health which puts a greater challenge on health services."