Health Inequalities: Office for Health Improvement and Disparities — [Derek Twigg in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:32 pm on 26th January 2022.

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Photo of Andrew Gwynne Andrew Gwynne Shadow Minister (Health and Social Care) 3:32 pm, 26th January 2022

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Twigg. I add my congratulations to my hon. Friend Peter Dowd on securing this debate and on the passionate way that he opened it.

Health inequalities are one of the defining issues of our time and are innately linked not only to how long we live, but to how well we live. Every person across this great country deserves to thrive and live a long, fulfilling and healthy life. That principle informed the creation of our national health service and it continues to drive the work that Opposition Members do.

As colleagues have done, I reinforce to the Minister the perilous position that we find ourselves in with regard to health inequalities. The pandemic has exacerbated the health inequalities that were already widening prior to the first lockdown. Indeed, in February 2020 the King’s Fund reported:

“Males living in the least deprived areas can, at birth, expect to live 9.4 years longer than males in the most deprived areas.”

For females, as we have heard, this gap is 7.4 years. That is not good enough.

Worse, the gap is increasing. Life expectancy has had a steady ascent for 100 years. That ascent began to plateau in 2011. Can the Minister advise what she thinks happened in 2010 that led to that abrupt stalling of life expectancy? It is very real. [Interruption.]