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Fears life expectancy is falling

Health chiefs are studying trends in life expectancy amid fears that it is falling among the elderly.

Concerns come as it is reported that in Blackburn and Darwen, in north-west England, there have been reductions in life expectancy at 85 for both men and women, as well as some signs of a reduction in life expectancy for men at 65.

An email from Blackburn with Darwen Council's director of public health Dominic Harrison, sent to regional colleagues and to Public Health England (PHE), said the council had seen a "sustained reduction" in life expectancy at 85 in its area. "Actual sustained cohort reductions in life expectancy such as this are now extremely unusual," it says.

The email, reported in The Independent and Health Service Journal, said possible explanations for the decline included government cuts to councils' social care budgets, a lack of capacity in the GP sector or pressure on hospitals.

PHE issued a statement last night from Professor John Newton, its chief knowledge officer, which said: "Although there was a fall in life expectancy at age 85 in 2012, preliminary analysis shows there was no further drop in 2013.

"Life expectancy at age 85 will be influenced by many factors and has fluctuated from year to year in the past. However, PHE is currently conducting further analysis of these trends and we hope to make the findings available in the near future."

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