Healthy life data points to divide

RichmondThe affluent London borough of Richmond upon Thames has the highest healthy life expectancy (HLE) for men and women in England, according to new figures.

Men and women in the area have a HLE of 70.3 years and 72.1 years respectively, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.

The lowest HLE was in Manchester for men at 55 years and Tower Hamlets for women at 54.1 years - a 15-year gap compared to Richmond upon Thames.

Dr John Middleton, vice president for policy at the Faculty of Public Health said: "These figures are an important part of a bigger picture of data that tells us why some people live longer than others.

"We know that healthy life expectancy is determined by our chances of being in a job, living in decent housing and having an adequate income.

"Clearly having a healthy lifestyle makes a big difference, but so does being in employment.

"There are also variations within towns and cities.

"Parts of Manchester will have better results than others, and there may well be places near Richmond where people do not fare as well as these figures suggest."

The ONS figures relate to HLE at birth for upper tier local authorities in England between 2009 and 2011, and point to a North-South divide in both life expectancy and HLE for men and women.

Analysis showed that HLE in the North East was significantly lower than all other regions, the ONS said.

There was also a clear gender difference.

In every local authority analysed, life expectancy was longer for women than for men.

The smallest gender gap existed in Rutland, with women expected to live 1.9 years longer than men.

The ONS said that the area with the highest gender inequality in life expectancy was Blackpool where women could expect to live an extra 6.2 years.

Dr Middleton said: "The kind of data that is published today may not be available in years to come.
"The Office for National Statistics is having to consider cutting programmes that measure this vital information.

"We need to keep monitoring as much as we can about our health so that we can continue to improve it.

"Otherwise, the gaps between the 'health haves' and 'health have nots' will continue to get wider."