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.
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
Kingston upon Hull, City of
North East Lincolnshire
Male LE only on track
Blackburn with Darwen
Female LE only on track
Newcastle upon Tyne
Redcar and Cleveland
Male and female LE both on track
Hammersmith and Fulham
Nuneaton and Bedworth
This analysis is based on a point estimates for life expectancy and we are investigating the stability of the assessment.