Disparity between life expectancy in north and south ‘entrenched and worsening’

More than half of the north of England has a lower life expectancy than the worst area in the south of the country, a new regional health partnership said.

Fresh analysis of Public Health England (PHE) data shows that in 66% of areas in the north – 33 out of 50 of upper tier local authorities – female life expectancy is lower than the area with the lowest female life expectancy in the south.

The figure is 46% – 23 out of 50 upper tier local authorities – for male life expectancy, according to the newly formed Northern Universities’ Public Health Alliance (NUPHA).

Experts from 20 northern universities, Public Health England, and other research partnerships have come together to form the regional body and highlight the inequalities within the north and across the country.

They said the disparity was “further compounded” by inequalities in the health service and research funding received by institutions in the north.

Professor David Burn, chairman of the Northern Health Science Alliance, an existing partnership that has joined the NUPHA, said: “We know that health inequalities across the north of England are entrenched and worsening.

“We also know that a third of the productivity gap between the north and the rest of the UK is due to ill health, losing £13.2 billion from the UK economy each year.

“Tackling the north’s ill health is vital to growing a vibrant UK economy, an investment in the health of the north is an investment in the entire country, equipping it to move forward into a truly vibrant 21st century economy.

“This world-leading research network gives us the opportunity for a genuinely place-based approach to tackling health inequalities.”

Professor John Newton, chief knowledge officer of PHE, said: “Public Health England welcomes this initiative to network public health expertise across the north and to promote more equitable research funding between the north and south of the country.

“The NHS long-term plan places tackling health inequalities and prevention at its heart so this is a crucial time for research and development to help us take advantage of all the available opportunities to do so.

“This is an important new alliance which builds on the considerable expertise across the North of England’s universities and local practitioners.”

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