Department of Health
Department of Health
80 London Road
London SE1 6LH
The Department of Health is responsible for the health policy in England. Its responsibilites currently cover: the NHS, public health and adult social care. Further details on the Department’s objectives and values can be found here.
The Health Inequalities unit of the Department leads on cross government action to tackle health inequalities across the social determinants of health.
Health in Country
The Health Profile for England (2009) shows that overall health outcomes are continuing to improve. These improvements include, declining mortality rates in targeted killers (cancers, all circulatory diseases and suicides), increasing life expectancy (now at its highest ever level), further reductions in infant and perinatal mortality. Health inequalities, however remain. The full report can be found here.
There are marked differences in life expectancy at birth between local authority areas in England in 2007-9. The difference in life expectancy at birth between the local authorities in England with the highest and lowest figures was 10.7 years for males (a slight increase on 10.6 years in 2006-08) and 9.9 years for females (the same as in 2006-08). The local area with the highest life expectancy for males was Kensington and Chelsea (84.4 years). Blackpool had the lowest male life expectancy (73.7 years). The local area with the highest life expectancy for females was Kensington and Chelsea (89.0 years). Manchester had the lowest female life expectancy (79.1 years).
Although infant mortality in England is at an all-time low and falling, significant inequalities persist by socio-economic group, by area, by ethnicity and by age. The rate of infant mortality for births registered jointly by both parents (i.e. excluding sole registered births), was 4.4 deaths per 1,000 live births. The rate of deaths in routine and manual groups was 5.0 deaths per 1,000 live births, 12% higher.
Local area data is available through local Health Profiles which give a snapshot overview of health for each local authority and region in England. The reports can be found here.
The Government has made it clear that tackling health inequalities is a priority, with a determined focus on equity and fairness. It has emphasised in the Public Health White Paper Healthy Lives, Healthy People (November 2010) that everyone should have the same opportunities to lead a healthy life, no matter where they live or who they are.As well as helping people live longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives, we aim to improve the health of the poorest fastest.
Projects & Programmes
Fair Society, Healthy Lives was independent review of health inequalities in England post 2010, chaired by Professor Sir Michael Marmot (UCL). The review report published in February 2010 has helped shape current policy developments. Marmot Review: Fair Society, Healthy lives can be found here.
The Role of the NHS in tackling health inequalities is set out in, Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS (July 2010), which set out proposals for the a health inequalities duty on the NHS and a health inequalities premium for local areas and anew NHS Outcomes Framework to help tackle inequalities and promote equality.
A programme of national support teams (NST), which worked with the NHS, local authorities and other organisations to support them delivering their public health priorities and reduce health inequalities. Specicially for health inequalities, the Health Inequalities NST and the Infant Mortality NST. A report on the work of the IMNST can be found here.
News & Publications
In addition, the Marmot review suggested indicators to support monitoring of the overall strategic direction in reducing health inequalities, these Marmot indicators by each local authority can be found here.
The London Health Observatory (LHO) is the Health Observatory with the national lead for health inequalities in England. It provides data on a range of health inequality indicators and tools to support local commissioners to commission evidence based interventions to reduce health inequalities. These can be found here.