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Unlike in most blogs, here I must declare a potential conflict of interest: I worked in the Department of Health on inequalities in health towards the end of the Labour government and in the first year of the coalition; I was therefore involved in some of what is discussed below.

In the past few weeks there has been a lot of interest in trends in population mortality and life expectancy. Michael Marmot pointed out that life expectancy at population level seems to have stalled, which served as a reminder that there has been concern about trends in mortality rates among older people, in 2015 in particular, but perhaps more importantly over a longer period since around 2010. Public Health England also published its first health profile for England and its interpretation of the mortality trends above.

But here I want to focus on inequalities in health, and what three very recent pieces of information and analysis tell us.

First, at the launch of the Health Profile for England, John Newton (Public Health England’s Director of Health Improvement) presented data that showed there had been little demonstrable change in health inequalities since 2010-12, as measured by gaps in life expectancy and healthy life expectancy by levels of deprivation.

Second, transparent but buried deep in the Department of Health’s annual report, there lies an assessment of how the Secretary of State is meeting his duties on health inequalities in England. This includes the Public Health England data, but is also a much wider assessment, across 15 indicators from the public health and NHS outcomes frameworks. This data is reproduced in the Table below and shows that inequalities on all 15 indicators have widened since baseline measurement and, for 9 of the 12 for which there have been some mid-point measurements since baseline, the latest data shows widening since that mid-point.

To read more on the King’ Fund website please click here 

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