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DH launches web tool to improve life expectancy in disadvantaged areas

23 August 2007

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The Department of Health (DH) today launched an interactive website to help local health services and councils improve life expectancy in areas with the worst health and deprivation.

The “Health Inequalities Intervention Tool” shows which diseases are causing low-life expectancy for each of the 70 spearhead areas, and provides a “ready reckoner” for the high-impact interventions that will help narrow the local gap quickly, based on real data.

The tool is designed for primary care trusts (PCTs), practice-based commissioners and local authorities. It can be used as part of a local strategy to reduce health inequalities.

Dawn Primarolo, Public Health Minister, said: “Tackling health inequalities is a priority for the DH and the NHS. We have set targets that need to be achieved by 2010, including a 10% reduction in the difference in life expectancy at birth between the fifth of areas with the worst health and deprivation and England as a whole.

“Our task now is to support local NHS and local authority service planners, commissioners and front-line staff to deliver on those targets and this is an excellent example of giving staff in Spearhead areas the tools to do the job and to do it well.”

Ways to improve life expectancy include:

  • Smoking cessation.
  • Reducing infant deaths.
  • Antihypertensive prescribing for people whose cardiovascular disease has not yet been diagnosed.
  • Statin prescribing for people whose cardiovascular disease has not yet been diagnosed.

The tool also assists PCTs in “case finding” by calculating the number of people locally who are likely to need treatment for cardiovascular disease.

The DH hopes that encouraging these people to present to their GPs or other health services will have a significant impact on their life expectancy, and on the average life expectancy within their locality.

Department of Health