Scotland sees fall in healthy life expectancy for men


Healthy life expectancy for men has fallen by more than a year in Scotland, with no similar change seen in other UK nations.

Life expectancy for males at birth was 60.9 years in 2018-2020, a drop of 1.4 years on the previous two-year period, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

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This is the most notable and only statistically significant change in healthy life expectancy in the UK, ONS said.

Male life expectancy at birth has failed.

It is the first time such a change has been seen in the past decade.

Inverclyde had the lowest male healthy life expectancy in Scotland, and third-lowest in the UK, at 53.5 years.

It is followed by Glasgow and Dundee, at 56 years.

Orkney had the second-highest in the UK, at 71 years, while in the Western Isles the figure was 68.

Independent charity the Health Foundation called on the UK government to do more to address disparities in healthy life expectancy across the UK.

David Finch, Assistant Director of Healthy Lives, said: ‘The government is facing an increasingly uphill battle in its mission to improve the health of those living in the poorest parts of the UK. Today’s data shows that the gap between the healthiest and least healthy areas of the country has further widened by 1.3 years on the government’s preferred leveling up metric. A girl born today in North Ayrshire or Blackpool is now expected to live 23 fewer years in good health than one in the Orkney Islands.”

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He added: ‘If we are to see progress, there needs to be a fundamental shift in the government’s approach, from a focus on people’s individual responsibility and choices towards actively creating the social and economic conditions that enable them to live healthier lives.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said disparities in health, life expectancy and quality of life between different areas are an “unwelcome reality”.

They said: “Our Program for Government includes commitments to improve life expectancy and to tackle health inequalities.

“We are continuing our work to increase healthy life expectancy across Scotland by implementing our bold package of measures to tackle key issues such as smoking, obesity, inactivity and alcohol misuse.

“We are also adopting a place-based approach to local health improvement, supporting joint working across the wider public and third sectors to improve health and wellbeing and reduce inequalities.”

The spokesperson added: “Targeting actions to areas and communities most in need will ensure equity in our approach and avoid widening inequalities further– however, we would be able to go further if we had the full range of welfare, social and economic powers, many of which remain reserved to the UK Government.

“This work to help people live longer, healthier lives is supported by our investment in measures such as affordable housing, free prescriptions, free personal care and providing free school meals.”

The UK Government did not respond to a request for comment.

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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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