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Northern Ireland men in poorer parts die seven years earlier

By Jane Scott

A new report today reveals there are still fundamental health inequalities in Northern Ireland.

Published to coincide with World Public Service Day, it has found these imbalances mean that no one’s health here is as good as it could be.

In October 2016 a 10-year plan — Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together — was launched by the Department of Health.

This ambitious Health and Social Care Transformation Programme was the response to a report produced by an expert panel led by Professor Rafael Bengoa.

It was tasked with considering the best configuration of health and social care services in Northern Ireland, but has found that many people here still die prematurely.

The report reveals that in 2013-15 the life expectancy for men in the most deprived areas was 74, seven years fewer than those in the least deprived areas at 81 years.

Inequalities are also evident in a range of groups such as young men, ethnic minorities, migrants, carers, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, those experiencing homelessness or with a disability.

The rate of mood or anxiety disorders experienced by people is two-thirds higher in the most deprived areas than in the least deprived. The rate of alcohol-related mortality in the most deprived areas in four times higher than that in the least deprived. 

There were also 719 alcohol-related hospital admissions between 2012 and 2015, with the rate five times higher in the most deprived areas.

Mary Black, assistant director of public health at the Public Health Agency and chair of the community development work stream under the Health and Social Care Transformation Programme, says the gap between the most and least affluent parts of society is persisting, and in some instances widening.

“Whilst there have been significant improvements in health for the whole population over the decades, these benefits are not evenly distributed,” she commented.

The report also sets out a proposed implementation plan for its proposals over the course of the next decade.

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