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Gap in life expectancy between rich and poor increases

The gap between the life expectancy of the rich and poor has widened despite efforts to close it, an official Government watchdog has revealed.

A National Audit Office (NAO) report which focused on 70 of the most deprived areas in England found that while life expectancy had gone up across the board, the difference compared with more affluent parts of the country was greater - 7% for men and 14% for women.

In 1995-97, men in poorer areas were expected to live 72.7 years, compared with 74.6 years in the rest of England.

By 2006-08 the life expectancy of men in these areas had risen to 75.8, but the average for men in the rest of the country had gone up to 77.9 years.

Women in poorer areas could expect to live to 78.3 in 1995-97, compared with 79.7 in the rest of the country. But by 2006-08, poorer women would live to 80.4 while their more affluent counterparts would, on average, live to 82.

The NAO said its calculations showed since 1995-97, the gap between life expectancy of men in the poorest areas and the rest of England had increased to 7% by 2006-08. The gap for women was 14% wider at the end of the same period.

The figures come despite a Labour target in 2000 to reduce the difference in life expectancy by 10% between the poorest and richest by 2010.

But Thursday's report shows although people are expected to live longer overall, the gap between deprived areas and other areas has continued to grow and the target is unlikely to be met.

The NAO report recommended three ways to reduce the gap; prescribing more drugs to control blood pressure and cholesterol and help people quit smoking.

But these measures have not yet been used on a big enough scale and today the report found more could be done to get value for money.


From Belfast Telegraph