'Inequalities in life expectancy remain unacceptably high': The King's Fund responds to the ONS data on life expectancy

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Commenting on the Office for National Statistics data on life expectancy, Dr Veena Raleigh, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund, said:

‘The improvement in life expectancy in 2017–19, although modest, is welcome. But the data also shows that inequalities in life expectancy remain unacceptably high. There is now a ten-year gap in life expectancy for men in Westminster and Blackpool and a gap of almost eight years for women in the same areas. Moreover, the United Kingdom saw some of the smallest improvements in life expectancy among 21 similar Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries during 2011-18, with only the United States reporting worse figures for both males and females.

‘The outlook for this year is grim. The impact of Covid-19 could cause life expectancy in 2020 to fall to levels not seen for more than a decade, with poor and ethnic minority communities disproportionally affected. It’s vital that lessons from the first Covid-19 wave are learned, action is taken to keep deaths to a minimum during the winter and that the government gives much greater priority to levelling up and tackling inequalities.’     

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The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.