‘Gap in life expectancy between Wales and England continues to widen’ – Veronica German

2010 Tachwedd 24 4:32 PM

Veronica German, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Minister, has spoken of her disappointed that that the difference in life expectancy between people in Wales and England has continued to widen.

New figures released today on the Welsh Assembly Government website show that in 1991-93 a male in Wales could expect to live 0.1 years less than his UK counterpart, but by 2007-9 this figure is now 0.7 years. For Females that gap has increased from 0.1 to 0.5 years.

The new statistics have also illustrated that the gap has widened in Wales between the local authorities with the highest and lowest life expectancies.

The local authorities with the lowest life expectancies were generally situated in the South Wales valleys, with Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent having the lowest of all. This pattern has not changed substantially in the last decade as both areas also had the lowest life expectancy in Wales 1991.

The difference in life expectancy across Wales has been increasing. The highest and lowest at local authority level is 5.8 years for males and 5.0 years for females. This is higher than in 1991-93, when for males there was a 3.6 year difference and for females a 2.9 year difference.

Ms German, South Wales East AM, commented:

"The fact is that we are yet again lagging behind England. The difference between Wales and the UK has actually widened. Life expectancy is one of the most common ways of measuring the health and well being of a population, therefore the fact that Wales is still behind England is deeply troubling."

Ms German continued:

"There is a clear correlation in these statistics between those areas that are poorer and those with lower life expectancy. It should not be the case in this day and age that those who are richer live longer. It is a disgrace that areas that had the lowest life expectancy in 1991 and still do today. It is also a disgrace that the gap has in fact widened. What is being done about this?

"The Welsh Assembly Government must look at how they plan to improve the health of the poorest in Wales so as to improve life expectancy. They must bring forward a strategy for helping to decrease this gap that exists in different areas.

"After 13 years of a Labour administration in both countries, the divide between the rich and poor is greater than any time since the second World War. These statistics are yet further evidence illustrating how badly the Labour party has let Wales down over these years."

Notes

Statistics can be found here: http://wales.gov.uk/docs/statistics/2010/101124sb942010en.pdf

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