New analysis reveals stark picture of health disparities across England

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New research released by LCP and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has highlighted that education, skills, welfare and public health services all have a strong link to health outcomes and life expectancy.  

The report identifies Northern cities and suburbs, midlands cities and coastal cities as areas where public health is particularly influenced by a combination of material conditions and lack of health infrastructure. It shows clusters of areas of England where multiple disadvantages are conspiring to drive down health outcomes and prevent life expectancy from growing.  In these areas life expectancy was four years lower and healthy life expectancy was six years lower than in places where health was best.  

LCP has designed a Health and Wealth Explorer which pulls together key stats for local authorities in England based on publicly available  Health, education, employment and economic administrative data between 2015-2020. It maps the data and enables the user to compare different parts of the country.  

The analysis shows that just before the pandemic hit: 

  • Life expectancy in Blackpool was nine years lower than in Westminster. And compared to the best performing local authority in England, people in Blackpool also had around one third of the NVQ4+ qualification attainment levels; had three times the prevalence of depression compared to Hounslow; and had one third lower levels of children achieving a ‘good’ standard of development by age five. 
  • Healthy life expectancy in Nottingham was 14.6 years lower than in Wokingham. While at the same time, compared to the best performing local authority (Richmond), on average people in Nottingham were eight times more likely to be unemployed and have one seventh of the household income per household as those in Kensington and Chelsea. 
  • So called ‘behavioural’ health risk factors – like smoking, obesity and alcohol consumption – were highest in Kingston upon Hull. On average, compared to people in the best performing local authority, people in Kingston upon Hull had just over half the total wealth per person, and child poverty rate was five times higher than in Richmond upon Thames 

The analysis shows that if health outcomes across the country matched those seen in parts of the country where health is traditionally best (the home counties and more affluent London boroughs) we would see: 

  • An increase in how long people can expect to live healthy lives in England of 3.3 years.
  • An increase in average life expectancy in England of two years. 
  • A decrease in depression prevalence from around 11 per cent to around 8 per cent – the equivalent of around 1.3 million less people living with depression.
  • A decrease in childhood obesity and overweight prevalence from 35 per cent to 32 per cent – the equivalent of around 40,000 less 10- and 11-year-olds with excess weight each year.

Dr Jonathan Pearson-Stuttard, Head of Health Analytics at LCP, commented: “There is a critical role for data and localised information in identifying the areas of most need and ensuring those communities are able to access the funds required to rebalance, rebuild and realise the opportunities that good health brings.” 

Dr Rebecca Sloan, Consultant at LCP, added: “This research demonstrates the clear link between good health and a range of other socio-economic factors.  The significant inequalities demonstrated in this analysis is likely to have worsened following the impact of the pandemic. To close these gaps targeted investment and resource is required but must be targeted and proportionate to need.”