North/South divide debate rumbles on

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

The key health headline today is one which appears at first glance to be an obvious one, the richer live longer on average than the poorer. The statistics quoted in the study lead by Public Health England and published in the Lancet make for interesting reading and they cover the period between 1990 and 2013. They show that on average life expectancy in the UK has risen by 5.4 years lead by increases in treatment to combat key diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and some cancers.

The headline-grabbing point found in the report that the poorest in the North of England live on average of eight years fewer than the richest in the south. A healthier more active lifestyle with better access to better healthcare systems would necessarily result in a longer lifespan. The challenge remains to more evenly distribute the higher levels of health experienced in the South of the country UK-wide. That said the apparent disparity in the quality of healthcare received across England is something that politicians would do well to notice and attempt to remedy.

Positively with advances in medicine and healthcare it appears that the NHS has been getting progressively better at treating ill health but not necessarily curing poor health which helps to explain the overall increase in lifespans across the country.

What the report doesn’t speak to is the quality of life of those that are living longer- admittedly this is almost an intangible concept that can mean different things to different people- a longer lifespan is not necessarily indicative of a better life. What the report does re-emphasise is the imbalance in the quality of care and lifestyles of those living in the North and the South.

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