'Health gap widens between rich and poor'

Forty years of progress in public health have failed to make any impact on the poorest people in northern England, who are dying at the same rate as people did in the late 1940s and early 1950s, according to a report.

The study says the gap between the health of the rich and the poor is widening, with the health of the poor worsening significantly between 1981- 1991. Death rates in the most affluent areas fell substantially, but rates in the poorest areas actually increased, particularly among men aged 15-44.

Dr Peter Phillimore, from the Department of Social Policy at Newcastle University, one of the authors of the report, said: 'For the first time since the 1930s the death rate is rising (in these groups).'

According to the report published in tomorrow's British Medical Journal, inequalities in death rates increased for both sexes in all ages under 75 'primarily because the health of people in the poorest areas worsened relative to the rest of the population'.

The study looked at 678 electoral wards in Cleveland, Cumbria, Durham, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear, comparing factors linked to socio-economic status: unemployment, car ownership, housing tenure, and household overcrowding. Death rates from all causes were assessed for different age categories between 1981-1991.

The research suggested that unemployment and deregulation at work are 'at least as influential' as HIV and Aids on national changes in death rates of men aged between 15-44.

The report says that in the poorest 10 per cent of wards, death in 1989-1991 among men aged 45-54 and women aged 55-64 was equivalent to national levels last experienced in the late 1940s, while among women aged 45-54 and men 55- 64 the equivalent rates occurred in the early 1950s. It concludes that 'public health is strongly linked with material conditions rather than individual behaviour'. Critics of the Government say that its failure to acknowledge this undermines its Health of the Nation strategy. Average life expectancy in Britain slipped from 12th position in 1970, to 17th in 1990 among 24 countries of the OECD.

Health spending will be tilted towards the underprivileged areas in the North and the inner cities under plans being prepared by Labour.

The shift in grants to NHS regions is being planned as a solution to a widening gap in health between North and South, and rich and poor, David Blunkett, the Labour spokesman, said in a speech to a public health conference at Birmingham University.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)