A new report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) exposes the “growing gulf of health inequalities between rich and poor”, Labour has said today (Thursday).
ONS analysis reveals a significant increase in the inequality in life expectancy in England between the most and least deprived, with women on low incomes the hardest hit.
For males at birth in England, a 0.3-year increase in the inequality in life expectancy was observed between 2011 to 2013 and 2014 to 2016, and now approaches a decade of life difference at 9.3 years.
This increase in the inequality was largely a result of a very small increase of less than a month among the most deprived males, while the least deprived males gained more than four months of life since 2011 to 2013.
For females, the inequality grew slightly more than for males by 0.4 years; the least-deprived females are now living 7.4 years longer than the most-deprived.
The change in the inequality for females arose because of a statistically significant fall in life expectancy of more than two months for the most-deprived, while it grew by more than three months for the least deprived since 2011 to 2013.
A similar pattern was observed in Wales, but the growth in the inequality was less than in England and not regarded as statistically significant.
ONS examined life expectancy changes among residents of England and Wales living in areas exposed to different levels of deprivation, a measure that combines aspects of life such as employment, environment and access to services.
Commenting on the report’s findings, Sharon Hodgson MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Public Health, said: “The growing gulf of health inequalities between rich and poor exposes the terrible effects of the policies pursued by this Government.
“It’s just astonishing that this decade has seen a slowdown in improvements in life expectancy – an appalling consequence of this Government’s failure to improve the chances of the worst-off – as years of underfunding in health and social care take their toll.
“The next Labour Government will ensure our health and care system is properly funded so all children are given the best possible start in life, and older people are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”