Search for
Filter results by subjects:
Select a Topic to filter by Subject
Filter results by content type:
Sort by:
Elderly hands playing dominos.
Elderly hands playing dominos.

Response to ONS Health state life expectancies, UK: 2015 to 2017 statistics

There continues to be a worrying gap in healthy life expectancy between rich and poor.

Our Chief Executive, Anna Dixon, responds to the latest figures on how long people in the UK can expect to be healthy in later life.

The latest ONS figures on ‘health state life expectancies’ (2015 to 2017) show:

  • In the UK in 2015 to 2017, healthy life expectancy (HLE) at birth was 63.1 years for males and for females was 63.6 years.
  • The years lived in 'Not Good' health has increased both in relative and in absolute terms, because life expectancy has risen more quickly than healthy life expectancy.
  • The gap between men and women has increased, with women now spending 3.2 additional years in poor health.
  • Female HLE at birth in the UK decreased by three months since 2009 to 2011 (the start of the HLE time series) while HLE for males increased by five months over the same period.
  • The HLE gap at birth across local authority areas is by 21.5 years for females and 15.8 years for males.
  • In England, the disparity in HLE at birth is 18.1 years for females and 15.2 years for males.
  • Life expectancy at birth in England is highest in Southern counties (SW, SE, East Midlands) and lowest in the North West and North East. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are over-represented in terms of low LE/HLE in general. 
  • A woman at 65 in Nottingham can only expect to spend 6.8 of her 19.7 years in good health (34.7%), compared to a woman of 65 in the Orkney Islands who can expect to spend 16.5 of her remaining 20.1 years in good health (81.9%)
  • Men of 65 in Hackney and Mid-Ulster can expect to live another 18.5 years but only spend 6.3 of them in good health (33.8%) whereas a man of 65 in Kensington and Chelsea can expect to live for another 19.7 years, and spend 14.7 of them in good health (75%)

Previously, the latest Health Survey for England showed that:

  • Nearly one in ten men (8%) and women (7%) report bad- or very bad- health.
  • These compare to 7% for both sexes in 2002.
  • Two in five (41%) men have at least one longstanding illness, and 12% report having acute sickness. This compares to 45% and 17% for women.
  • Nine in ten (89%) of people aged 75 and over have at least one significant health risk (such as inactivity, obesity, smoking etc.
  • Nearly one in five (19%) have three significant health risks.
  • There is a significant difference between men and women when it comes to needing help with the ‘activities of daily living’ (ADLs) such as bathing, cooking or climbing the stairs unaided.
  • Two in five (44%) men over 80 need help with at least one ADL.
  • Nearly two thirds (63%) of women over 80 need help with at least one ADL
  • More than half (53%) of people over the age of 75 experience chronic pain.
  • This is more prevalent amongst women (57%) than men (47%).
Anna Dixon, Chief Executive of the Centre for Ageing Better said:

“The latest ONS figures on healthy life expectancy show that we still have a long way to go before everyone can fully enjoy all the benefits of a good later life.

“There is no point adding years to our life if those final years are spent in poor health or are severely restricted by preventable disability. We need to focus on adding life to our years and reducing the gap in healthy life expectancy between rich and poor.

“We need urgent action from policymakers, local government, planners, developers and the NHS to create environments where people can stay healthy for longer and prevent diseases and disabilities which affect people in later life.”