Health inequalities

This content relates to the following topics:

Part of The NHS in a nutshell

Healthy Life Expectancy (HLE) at birth for NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), England, 2010-12

Source: Healthy Life Expectancy at Birth and at Age 65: Clinical Commissioning Groups (2010-12), Office for National Statistics

Inequalities in health can be measured in many different ways. One broad measure of health inequalities is how healthy life expectancy – the number of years spent in good health – differs across the country. As the map shows, there is considerable variation in average healthy life expectancy between clinical commissioning groups (CCGs): the difference in healthy life expectancy between the CCGs with the highest and lowest average healthy life expectancy in 2010-12 was 17.8 years for males and 19.7 for females.

Over time, we can also look at how another measure of health – life expectancy – differs between those who live in the most and least deprived areas. Between 2002-4 and 2010-12, the gap in life expectancy between the fifth most deprived section of the population and fifth least deprived narrowed from 7.7 years to 7.5 years for newborn boys, but widened from 5.2 to 5.6 years for newborn girls. Our work shows that those from lower socio-economic groups and less education have not been giving up unhealthy behaviours as fast as the rest of the population, storing up inequalities in health for the future.

For more on the coalition’s record on health inequalities, see David Buck's blog