Scotland's life expectancy takes another tumble - and is now two years below UK average

·2-min read
Humza Yousaf - Andrew Milligan
Humza Yousaf - Andrew Milligan

Life expectancy in Scotland has tumbled again and remains the worst anywhere in the UK, according to official figures that heaped more pressure on the SNP's under-fire Health Secretary.

National Records of Scotland (NRS) said the average lifespan for males had fallen 11 weeks in the latest year to 76.6 years. Women's life expectancy fell eight weeks to 80.8 years.

Although NRS attributed most of the fall to Covid-19, the most recently available figures showed the average life expectancy across the UK was more than two years higher for both men (79 years) and women (82.9 years).

The report also disclosed a widening gap between the life expectancy of rich and poor Scots, with the wealthiest men living 13.7 years longer than the poorest and the most well-off women living 10.5 years longer.

'Deeply alarming numbers'

Holyrood's opposition parties said Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf, her health secretary, must take responsibility for Scotland having the UK's worst life expectancy following more than 15 years of SNP control of the NHS.

Dr Sandesh Gulhane, the Scottish Tories' shadow health secretary and a GP, said: "These deeply alarming numbers have the fingerprints of Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf all over them.

“While Covid is a factor in the reduction of life expectancy all across the UK, the fact remains that it had already started falling in Scotland before the pandemic, and life expectancy is significantly lower here."

Alex Cole-Hamilton, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, said: "These statistics show the true state our country is in. This fall in life expectancy is the result of two public health crises the SNP have catastrophically mishandled."

He said the SNP had allowed Covid patients to be transferred into care homes without testing and cut drug treatment budgets before deaths rose to record levels.

Glasgow has worst life expectancy

Life expectancy increased in Scotland between the early 1980s and early 2010s but started to plateau between 2012 and 2014. It then fell sharply between 2018 and 2020, with Covid again largely being blamed for the largest drop in 40 years.

The latest figures, covering the period between 2019 and 2021, showed the decline continued, with average life span dropping for men in 25 out of 32 local authority areas and for women in 21 areas.

Life expectancy was worse in Scotland's towns and cities than rural areas, with the worst figures being recorded in Glasgow, where men are expected to die after only 72.9 years and women 78 years.

In comparison, girls born between 2019 and 2021 in the Orkney Islands can expect to live 83.8 years and boys 80.4 years.