The gap in health outcomes between the most deprived and least deprived areas of Scotland is reported for a variety of indicators in both absolute and relative terms. The latest figures include data up to 2010 for most indicators.
The main findings are:
* The highest level of relative inequality continues to be seen in alcohol-related deaths among those aged 45-74. While there have been some improvements in recent years, death rates and levels of inequality were higher in 2010 than in 1998.
* Between 1997 and 2010 the death rate for coronary heart disease (CHD) among those aged 45-74 years fell 57%. The reduction was slower in the most deprived areas of Scotland than elsewhere, meaning that relative inequality has increased slightly over the long-term while the absolute inequality gap has narrowed. However there are signs that relative inequality has stabilised in recent years.
* There are also signs of recently improving trends (reducing or stabilising inequality in one or both measures) in Low Birthweight, Premature Mortality, and Alcohol Related Hospital Admissions.
* Over the longer term, inequalities have widened in one or both measures for All-cause Mortality (aged 15-44) and Cancer Mortality (aged 45-74).
THE extent of Scotland’s health inequalities is highlighted, showing that healthy life expectancy among men in the poorest areas of the country is just 47. Scotland’s health gap is now wider than anywhere else in Europe and that the poorest people can expect to die 20 years before the country’s wealthiest residents. Men in the most deprived areas have a life expectancy of 68. This is a year above the UK Government's proposed retirement age.
Scotland’s life expectancy and healthy life expectancy is going up with between two and three years more of healthy life than they did in 1999. However, the gap between rich and poor has failed to close and is now wider than in the rest of the United Kingdom.
David Walsh, of the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, added: “We are talking about extending working life, but we are seeing parts of Scotland where people are not going to get much time in retirement. These figures are shocking and they continue to be shocking.”
Dr Gerry McCartney, of the Public Health Observatory for Health Scotland, identified the key issues. He said:
"Inequalities in income are the most obvious point for action. Clearly, the economic recession and welfare reform are pushing in the wrong direction. Health policy is important, but it plays a minor part.”