Residents in North Lanarkshire are now expected to live more of their lives in poor health

The time during their lives that both men and women in North Lanarkshire can expect to spend in good health has failed for more than two years.

With the cost of living soaring, and no sign of anything improving in the short term with increasing fuel, food, and energy bills, Central Scotland MSP Gillian Mackay has described the latest statistics as “extremely concerning”.

The newly released figures from the National Records of Scotland for the period from 2018 to 2020 show healthy life expectancy at birth in the local authority area has dropped.

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It now shows men are expected to live in good health for over two years less than previously recorded during 2017 to 2019.

They reveal that during the recording period 2018 to 2020, healthy life expectancy for men was 56.6, down from 58.7 on the previous period and for women the expectancy had dropped even further from 57.8 years in 2017 to 2019, to 55.5 years.

The figures are well below the averages for Scotland which sit at 60.9 years for men and 61.8.

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Healthy life expectancy (HLE) is an estimate of the number of years lived in ‘very good’ or ‘good’ general health, based on how individuals perceive their own state of health.

Scottish Greens Health Spokesperson Gillian Mackay MSP

South Lanarkshire residents fared slightly better with men expected to spend 59.5 years living in good or very good general health, that was up from 57.9 years and women 62.7 years, which was slightly down from the previous estimate of 63 years.

The figures also show that people born in the NHS Lanarkshire health board area have the second lowest healthy life expectancy in Scotland – only Ayrshire and Arran fared worse. Orkney was highest with 71.2 years.

Gillian Mackay MSP, Scottish Greens health spokeswoman, said: “This fall in healthy life expectancy is extremely concerning, not least because the state pension age for those born this year is currently 68.

“We know that inequality is a significant factor given that healthy life expectancy in the most deprived areas was more than 24 years lower than in the least deprived areas.

“The cost of living is soaring and we have yet to see the impact of the Tories’ cruel cut to universal credit which will undoubtedly plunge more people into poverty.”

Living in deprived areas of the country is a huge factor in healthy life expectancy with both men and women living in the least deprived areas expected to live in good health for over 24 years more when compared to those in the most deprived areas in Scotland.

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In the most deprived areas, both males and females spend more than a third of their lives in poor health.

“The pandemic has exposed inequality and its impact on Scotland’s deprived communities, the MSP added. “We need to urgently improve Scotland’s public health by implementing bold policies which address the root causes of poor health and tackle unhealthy environments which fuel consumption of alcohol, unhealthy food and drink and tobacco.”

People are now more likely to spend more of their lives in poor health, in recent years life expectancy has failed but healthy life expectancy is falling at a faster rate.

And women are more likely to spend a higher proportion of their lives in poor health than men as they have a higher life expectancy.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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