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Health Inequalities

Volume 450: debated on Wednesday 25 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made towards reducing health inequalities within (a) England and (b) London. (93975)

Progress on reducing health inequalities in England is measured against the public service agreement (PSA) target and the 12 headline indicators set out in the national health inequalities strategy, the Programme for Action. The most recent report, the Status Report on the Programme for Action, published in August 2005, shows that the gap in life expectancy and infant mortality has continued to widen since the target baseline. The life expectancy gap has increased by 1 per cent. for males and 8 per cent. for females. The gap in infant mortality has increased from 13 per cent. to 19 per cent. The 12 national headline indicators monitor those programmes and policies that are expected to make a significant impact on health inequalities. The report shows no change for most indicators but early progress in three key areas:

reductions in child poverty;

improvements in housing quality; and

a reduction in the inequalities in cardiovascular disease and cancer death rates, in absolute terms.

In London, five of the 11 spearhead local authority areas covered by the London strategic health authority are making sufficient progress to narrow the life expectancy gap for both men and women in line with the target of reducing the gap by 10 per cent. by 2010. A further four areas are on track to narrow the gap for males or females. The remaining two areas are currently off track to meet the 2010 target.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made towards reaching the target of reducing inequalities in health outcomes as measured by (a) infant mortality and (b) life expectancy at birth by ten per cent. by 2010 in (i) the London strategic health authority area, (ii) the London borough of Newham and (iii) England. (93976)

On infant mortality, the latest figures confirm the previously reported trend for England that, despite continuing improvements in infant mortality rates among all groups, the relative gap between routine and manual groups and the population as a whole has widened over recent years since the target baseline. The latest data, for 2002-04, show the infant mortality rate for the whole population (for all those with valid social class) was 4.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 5.9 per 1,000 for those in routine and manual groups. The gap in the rate between routine and manual groups and the population as a whole was 19 per cent. in 2002-04, compared with 13 per cent. in the baseline period of 1997-99. This gap has remained unchanged since 2001-03.

The infant mortality target is a national target. The Department is exploring ways of interpreting historical data to try and assess progress on the infant mortality target at local level and is not routinely monitored at local level.

Life expectancy has increased for both males and females for England as a whole but it has improved more slowly in the spearhead group of local authority areas with the worst health and deprivation indicators. In England, average life expectancy for males is 76.6 and for females 80.9, in the spearhead group it is 74.6 for males and 79.4 for females. The slower rate of improvement in has led to a widening of the relative gap in life expectancy between England and the spearhead group. The latest data for 2002-04, show that the average life expectancy in the Spearhead Group was 2.60 per cent. lower than the England average for males, and 1.90 per cent. lower than the England average for females. Therefore, the relative gap has widened by one per cent. for men and eight per cent. for women since the baseline, 1995-97.

Five of the 11 spearhead local authority areas covered by the London strategic health authority are making sufficient progress to narrow the life expectancy gap for both men and women in line with target of reducing the gap by 10 per cent. by 2010. A further four areas are on track to narrow the gap for males or females. The remaining two areas are currently off track to meet the 2010 target.

The London borough of Newham is on track to narrow the gap for males but not females.

13 out of 70 spearhead areas in England are making sufficient progress to meet the target by 10 per cent. by 2010 for both men and women. A further 29 areas are on track to narrow their share of the gap for males or females. The remaining 28 areas are currently off track to meet their share of the 2010 target. The information is set out in the following lists:

Male and Female LE off track

Barking and Dagenham

Islington

Bolton

Oldham

Salford

Wigan

Liverpool

Rotherham

North Tyneside

South Tyneside

Sunderland

Sandwell

Bradford

Wakefield

Hartlepool

Middlesbrough

Halton

Blackpool

Kingston upon Hull, City of

North East Lincolnshire

Leicester

Nottingham

Stoke-on-Trent

Barrow-in-Furness

Bolsover

Easington

Burnley

Pendle

Male LE only on track

Lewisham

Newham

Manchester

Knowsley

Wirral

Walsall

Blackburn with Darwen

Chester-le-Street

Sedgefield

Wear Valley

Preston

Lincoln

Corby

Wansbeck

Tamworth

Female LE only on track

Greenwich

Haringey

Bury

Rochdale

Tameside

Barnsley

Doncaster

Gateshead

Newcastle upon Tyne

Birmingham

Wolverhampton

Redcar and Cleveland

Rossendale

Blyth Valley

Male and female LE both on track

Hackney

Hammersmith and Fulham

Lambeth

Southwark

Tower Hamlets

St. Helens

Coventry

Stockton-on-Tees

Warrington

Carlisle

Derwentside

Hyndburn

Nuneaton and Bedworth

Note:

This analysis is based on a point estimates for life expectancy and we are investigating the stability of the assessment.