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South east England best region in terms of life expectancy, professor explains


16 September 2015

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Between 1990-2013 life expectancy in England increased by 5.4 years due to a fall in death rates from cardiovascular disease, stroke and other chronic diseases, and three regions fared particularly well, Professor John Newton, chief knowledge officer at Public Health England explained to its annual conference in Coventry today. 

Between 1990-2013 life expectancy in England increased by 5.4 years due to a fall in death rates from cardiovascular disease, stroke and other chronic diseases, and three regions fared particularly well, Professor John Newton, chief knowledge officer at Public Health England explained to its annual conference in Coventry today. 

South East England, East England and South West England – in descending order – are the best performing regions in the country, the report Changes in health in England with analysis by English region and areas of deprivation: findings of the Global Burden of Disease Study revealed.

In terms of life expectancy "England performed above average compared to 18 other countries, including Australia, Canada, Norway and the United States", with the USA performing worst in times of life expectancy overall, and in England "men are catching up with women" and the difference between their life expectancies has reduced, he said.

Newton added: "Really the most striking thing is where you live makes a huge difference to your health, we've known that for some time, but it's very helpful to have data that's more specific.

"The key finding, I think, that comes out of our data is that it is the inequality, not the geography, that matters. The point is the differences within regions are greater than the differences between regions. Health inequalities are present all over the country, however regions such as the north west and north east have, quantitatively, a much greater problem", he added.

Interesingly, London, which has a high level of deprivation, has higher than expected life expectancies.

"London looks like an exception, London does better than you'd expect, for its level of deprivation. Theres something different about the population in London, or the way they are living, or the services provided," the professor stated.

He confirmed that Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England's regional director for London, has already written to him to ask about it, and there will be further discussion on "what we can learn from London".

“Much would be gained if public health strategies could be devised to address this inequality and raise standards in all regions to match those of the best regions in the UK,” Newton recommended.

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