Life Expectancy: What is this telling us?

Life expectancy is an internationally accepted measure of the overall health of a population. It also featured in the previous Government’s overarching national target for tackling health inequalities, which was “By 2010 to reduce health inequalities in health outcomes by 10% as measured by infant mortality and life expectancy at birth”5 . The life expectancy target was expressed in more detail thus: “Starting with local authorities, by 2010 to reduce by at least 10% the gap in life expectancy between the fifth of areas with the worst health and deprivation indicators (the Spearhead group) and the population as a whole.” Lewisham was part of the Spearhead group, and the baseline period from which reduction was to be measured was 1995-7. In the baseline period life expectancy for females was 79.69 years in England and 78.4 years in Lewisham, a gap of 1.29 years, or 1.62% of the England figure. The target was to reduce this by at least 10%, making a relative gap of 1.45% of the England figure or lower.

At 81.3 years, life expectancy for females in Lewisham is lower than the England average of 82.3 years, but is increasing slightly faster than the national average rate. In 2005-2007 the relative gap was 1.3%, making this the first period in which Lewisham has achieved the 2010 target. This achievement has been maintained in subsequent years. In the baseline period life expectancy for males was 74.61 years in England and 72.2 years in Lewisham, a gap of 2.41 years, or 3.23% of the England figure. The target is to reduce this by at least 10%, making a relative gap of 2.90% of the England figure or lower. At 76.3 years, life expectancy for males in Lewisham is lower than the England average of 78.3 years, but has increased faster than the national average. In 2005-2007 the relative gap was 2.12%. Since then it has widened, but Lewisham has achieved the 2010 target every 3-year period since 2000-2002. There is considerable inequality in life expectancy across Lewisham geographically. For both sexes, Crofton Park has the higher life expectancy, and Lewisham Central has the lowest, with New Cross the second lowest. For females Lewisham Central ward has significantly lower life expectancy than 13 other wards; for men its life expectancy is significantly below those for 11 other wards. Crofton Park ward has significantly higher life expectancy for females than 11 other wards, and for males than 8 other wards. This appears not to be directly associated with deprivation, especially for females. Evelyn Ward in the North and Downham Ward in the south, both of which have high levels of deprivation, have life expectancies among the highest in the borough for females, while that in Catford South, the least deprived ward, is very close to the borough average.

References

  1. Department of health, Health Inequalities: Progress and Next Steps, 9 June 2008

 

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