Figures from the Office of National Statistics show a continuing picture of health inequality across England and Wales. There is a difference of eight years in life expectancy between the best and the worst areas. Rural areas top the life expectancy table with 79.5 years in the league leaders, Rutland and Dorset. The exception in the top ten is the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea with 78.9 years.The north west of England has some of the lowest figures with Manchester at the bottom of the table with 71.0 years. Next comes Blackpool 71.7, Liverpool 72.5, Knowsley 72.9 and Blackburn with Darwen 73.0. In the north east Middlesbrough has 72.9 and Hartlepool 73.0. The London Boroughs of Tower Hamlets, 72.7 and Lambeth, 73.0 are also among the bottom 10 areas.
The Health Development Agency recently published a plan with a cross-government objective of improving public health and reducing health inequalities overthe next three years. The plan includes longer-term programmes focusedon the delivery priorities of underlying determinants of health and the big killers, coronary heart disease and cancer.
The Agency will work closely with key national bodies and agencies in developing cross-cutting programmes to ensure that the social, environmental and economic issues are addressed. It will support regional public health networks, strategic health authorities, primary care trusts and public health practitioners in all sectors to reduce inequalities.
The Department of Health has published a compendium which features local and community projects from across England that submitted examples of their work in response to nine regional consultation events organised by the Department on tackling health inequalities. The compendium demonstrates that tackling health inequalities is not just an issue for the health sector but covers other areas such as education, housing and transport.