West Lothian and Falkirk girls face poor health in later life

Across the UK, average life expectancy at birth for men in 2016-18 was 79.3, while healthy life expectancy was 63.1 years.
Across the UK, average life expectancy at birth for men in 2016-18 was 79.3, while healthy life expectancy was 63.1 years.

Girls born in the West Lothian and Falkirk council areas face nearly 20 years of poor health in later life, figures reveal.

With people across the UK now expected to live longer in ill health, experts have called for “urgent action” to reverse the trend.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that girls born in West Lothian between 2016 and 2018 have an average life expectancy of 80.8 years – below the UK average of 82.9. But their healthy life expectancy is 61.8, meaning they will spend an anticipated 19 years struggling with their well-being. Boys born in the area between 2016 and 2018 have an average life expectancy of 77.8 years, and can expect to live 63.0 of those in good health on average. That leaves 14.8 years they would spend in worse health.

Girls born in the Falkirk Council area between 2016 and 2018 have an average life expectancy of 80.3 years. But their healthy life expectancy is 60.2, meaning they will spend an anticipated 20.1 years struggling with their well-being. Boys born in the area in that time have an average life expectancy of 77.1 years, and can expect to live 62.1 of those in good health on average. That leaves 15 years they would spend in worse health.

Angus Hanton, co-founder of the Intergenerational Foundation, which promotes intergenerational fairness, said: “Unless urgent action is taken, we could be consigning children born today, and particularly those from more deprived areas, to longer periods of ill health in old age. This is preventable but it needs commitment from the new government to prioritise funding.”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said older women are more likely than men to be living on a low income, and could be hit hard by difficulties accessing social care.

She added: “It’s vital that everyone in later life has access to the support and information they need to stay well in retirement, wherever they happen to live.”

Across the UK, average life expectancy at birth for women were expected to live is 82.9 years, 63.6 of them in good health.

The estimated time men are expected to be in poorer health increased by around half a year from 2009 2011, and almost three-quarters of a year for women.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We are committed to reducing the gap in life expectancy by 2035 and our NHS Long Term Plan, backed by an extra £33.9 billion in cash terms a year by 2023-24, puts tackling health inequalities at its heart.”