Poorer people are sicker longer and die earlier in England, according to new figures

·2-min read

The gap in life expectancy between the richest and poorest areas of England is growing, according to an annual medical report from Professor Chris Whitty.

The data study, officially titled The Chief Medical Officer's Annual Report, reveals several deprivation-based gaps on health, along with increases of dementia cases and mental illness.

In England, poorer people have been found to spend a greater amount of their lives in ill health, with people in deprived areas of the north particularly affected.

The national figures show a person is sick on average for around 20% of their lifetime.

Life expectancy, meanwhile, was reported to be lowest for those living in north Cumbria, County Durham and parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire in 2019.

Here, the average age of death was between 74 and 79 years old. This can be compared to the average age of 81 and 85 years recorded in the south.

Women are also having less children than in previous years and are waiting for later in life to begin families, meaning there are now increasing numbers of first-time mothers giving birth in their 30s.

In the most deprived areas, babies are more likely to die at birth - with Pakistani and black-Caribbean babies being twice as likely to die compared with white babies.

The overall infant mortality rate for all ethnicities is below seven per 1,000 live births.

Heart disease is currently the biggest killer in men, while dementia is the leading cause of death in women.

Dementia deaths are also on the rise, while heart disease and stroke-related deaths have fallen.

"Although COVID-19 has dominated the news, and remains an urgent priority, other diseases and health problems such as cancer and cardiovascular disease continue to take a major toll," Professor Whitty said.

"There is wide variation in ill health across the country, and much of this is avoidable.

"It is possible to raise the health outcomes of the least healthy closer to the outcomes of the healthiest - we should be aiming for that."

Professor Whitty's report also looked into mental illness across England, revealing sharp rises in suicide rates among men and women, despite decades of gradually declining figures.

Between 2016 and 2019, cases of self-harm among young people increased, with up to 1% of people under 24 years old being hospitalised in parts of the South West and the North.

Coastal and urban areas, including London, showed higher numbers of people with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and other psychoses.