Belfast Telegraph

Where to live in Northern Ireland if you want a longer life

Deprivation, location and gender all big factors

Where you live in Northern Ireland could add up to seven years to your life, a new health report has revealed
Where you live in Northern Ireland could add up to seven years to your life, a new health report has revealed

By Gillian Halliday

Where you live in Northern Ireland could add up to seven years to your life, a new health report has revealed.

The figures emerged in a statistical report looking at health inequalities and deprivation in Northern Ireland.

Published by the Department of Health yesterday, the latest Health Inequalities report outlines how life expectancy is affected by factors such as location, gender and deprivation levels.

The widest gap in life expectancies for both men and women is between the wealthiest and most deprived areas, prompting calls for urgent action to tackle the issue from leading medical professionals and politicians.

Men living in the most poverty-stricken areas of Northern Ireland have a life expectancy of 74.2 years - an astonishing 7.1 less than their more wealthy counterparts.

For females in poorer areas it is 4.5 years lower - 79.6 years in deprived areas while those in more affluent parts live to 84.1 years on average.

The three biggest causes of death recorded for poorer males between 2015-17 were cancer - which contributed to almost one-quarter of the deprivation gap - followed by circulatory conditions, such as coronary heart disease, and suicide.

For females the two biggest killers were cancer - which accounted for a third of deaths - and circulatory conditions, while the third largest cause was respiratory diseases such as pneumonia.

The report also highlights a rural and urban divide, with men and women living longer in countryside areas.

Rural males have a life expectancy of 80.3 years - 3.1 years more than their urban counterparts (77.2). Meanwhile, women living in urban areas can expect to live 2.1 years less than rural females (83.7 years) at 81.6 years.

Life expectancy also varies across the five health trusts.

Men are dying under the overall Northern Ireland average of 78.5 years in two trusts - Belfast and Western - where life expectancy is 76.3 and 78.4 years respectively.

The remaining trusts are higher than the NI average, with the best performing the South Eastern (79.3), followed by Northern (79.2) and Southern coming third at 78.9 years.

The picture is the same for women, with the Belfast and Western trusts recording a lower life expectancy than the female NI average of 82.3 years - 81.3 and 81.9 respectively.

South Eastern again has the highest life expectancy at 82.8 years, followed by Northern (82.7) and Southern (82.5).

Dr Alan Stout, chairperson of the NI British Medical Association (BMA) GP committee, said these latest statistics "sadly show no reversal" of the deprivation gap here.

Citing lifestyle as a factor, he said "complex and multi-layered issues" mean that people living in social and economic deprivation are "still disadvantaged in terms of health outcomes".

He added that the high suicide rates - particularly for males in deprived areas - underline "again that we urgently need a government in place to implement in full the suicide prevention strategy".

Dr Stout added: "There needs to be a multi-agency approach to addressing these issues as factors like employment, education and housing play a significant role in health outcomes."

His comments were echoed by Alliance Party health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA, who said the significant disparities between the poorest and wealthiest areas "provide a clear picture of the priority issues over the coming months" for the health service here.

"This reinforces the need for a cancer strategy and implementation of the Bengoa principles around identifying and treating cancers earlier, and also the need to take circulatory disease far more seriously, as there is too little focus on it," she said.

Belfast Telegraph


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