Social Justice

Healthy life expectancy in Liverpool is just 58: Most deprived areas of UK need better healthcare

"If everywhere in the UK was as healthy as Wokingham, Windsor or Maidenhead, we'd be the healthiest country in the world," the IPPR has found

liverpool

Liverpool is one of the worst affected areas in the UK. Image: Unsplash

People in the most deprived parts of the country are twice as likely to experience poor health than their wealthier neighbours, according to new research.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has revealed that health inequality in the UK is among the worst of any advanced economy.

“Bad health blackspots” are also areas of low productivity, high poverty and persistent unemployment.

People in Liverpool are nearly three times more likely to be in poor health than those in Oxfordshire, and twice as likely to be economically inactive.

In Liverpool, the healthy life expectancy is just 58 years, according to the IPPR. That’s an estimate of how many years they might live in a “healthy state”, rather than being how long they are expected to live.

In Wokingham in Berkshire, people are expected to be healthy until they turn 70.

Lord James Bethell, former health minister and IPPR commissioner said: “If everywhere in the UK was as healthy as Wokingham, Windsor or Maidenhead, we’d be the healthiest country in the world – and much wealthier too. 

“Not just because they have a better NHS, but because they have the right foundations for a healthy life: healthier food choices, less takeaways and betting shops, fewer mouldy houses, cleaner air and more green spaces.  

“Sick Britain is something we just cannot afford. We urgently need a plan to give people and communities real power over their health.”

Map from IPPR showing the areas where people are most impacted. You can search for your area and zoom in to see how you might be affected.

Almost one in every 10 people in places like Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham report that they are in bad health, compared to around just one in 33 in Hart, West Oxfordshire and South Oxfordshire (all in the South East).

These figures correlate with the proportion of people who are working – likely because poor health often means people are less likely to have the capacity to work.

Around 33.9% of working-aged people in Liverpool are economically inactive, 34.2% in Manchester and 38.5% in Nottingham. By comparison, it’s just 17.4% in Hart, 17.1% in West Oxfordshire and 17.8% in South Oxfordshire. 

Professor Donna Hall CBE, IPPR commissioner and former Chief Executive of Wigan Council, said: “People working within local government and health services are trapped by a lack of resources, support and agency to serve their local population. People feel unheard and their health is suffering.”

Across the UK, the healthy life expectancy gap between the healthiest and unhealthiest local authority is 23.5 years for women and 21.2 years for men.



The IPPR is recommending a new network of good health zones across the country. Health and Prosperity Improvement Zones (HAPI zones), would be modelled on Clean Air Zones.

These would ensure that change is prioritised in these “bad health blackspots” with a focus on key areas including physical and mental health, housing quality and addiction.

Efua Poku-Amanfo, research fellow at IPPR and lead author of the report, said: “The case for government spending and action on health is clear. It’s not just the morally right thing to do, it’s the economically sensible thing to do. 

“Bad health blackspots, especially in the North East and North West of England and the South of Wales, are stifling national economic growth and holding back the wealth and health of the nation.  

“Local leaders are ready and willing to take ownership of public health, collaborating with their communities to work out the best solutions. But they need the powers and funding from central government to turn things around.” 

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

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