Headlines: August 18th, 2005

Action to reduce the inequalities in health between groups of people is delivering results in some of the gap areas, but not in others. This report from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister focuses on the steps being taken to narrow the health gap by improving the health of the poorest fastest.There has been a narrowing of the gap in death rates from circulatory disease and improvements in death rates from cancer. There has been almost a 10% drop in the rate of under-18 conceptions from 1998 and taking a longer period from 1994 teenage conception rates in the most deprived top tier of local authorities fell faster than in other areas.

The life expectancy and infant morality gap has widened. The relative gap in life expectancy between England as a whole and the fifth of local authorities with the lowest life expectancy has increased for both males and females. This continues a long-standing trend. For males the relative gap increased by nearly 2%, for females by 5%.

For infant mortality the figures show a continuing trend towards a wider gap between ‘routine and manual’ groups and the whole population, although there have been year-on-year fluctuations in intervening years. The overall infant mortality rate was 5.0 deaths per 1,000 live births. The rate for those in ‘routine and manual’ groups was 6.0 per 1,000. In contrast the rate for those in the ‘managerial groups was 3.5.

The report sets out a commitment to reduce health inequality and to give a new emphasis with new targets to reduce the key drivers of health inequalities, particularly cancer, cardiovascular disease and smoking in lower socio-economic groups. There is also a new target to reduce childhood obesity.