NEARLY one in three of Scotland's 32 council areas have registered drops in life expectancy of over a year with levels of deprivation being blamed in many cases.

New figures show that Scotland has the lowest life expectancy in Western Europe having increased since the early 1980s but has now remained virtually unchanged for eight years.

Close analysis has revealed that there have been actual drops over the past five years in the expected lifespan of people living in eleven of Scotland's 32 council areas of up to 12 weeks per year for the past five years.

It reveals a postcode lottery of life expectancy with boys born in Glasgow expected to die a full seven years before those in the neighbouring council area of East Dunbartonshire.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, director of the University College London (UCL) Institute of Health Equity said there should be a review of the causes of health inequalities in Scotland, similar to one he completed for England in February.

"These latest figures from Scotland are deeply regrettable but not surprising. Scotland has consistently had lower life expectancy than England, and improvements in life expectancy in the whole of the UK slowed dramatically starting in 2010/11.

HeraldScotland: Professor Sir Michael Marmot said middle earners were still facing "extreme" pressures

"The relationship between deprivation and poor health, seen in these latest Scottish figures, are very similar to those we see in England; the causes are likely to be similar.

"I recently completed a review of the causes of health inequalities, Health Equity in England: the Marmot Review 10 Years On. I think it would be very important to do a similar review in Scotland.

"We showed that the relationship between deprivation and short life expectancy is stronger in the north of England than it is in London and the South. Extrapolating, with caution, it would not be surprising to find that living in deprived areas was worse for your health in parts of Glasgow than it is in London."

The NRS even suggest that we now stop defining the 'elderly' population as those aged over 65.

Studies show that a lot of the health problems related to old age are more closely associated with how long someone has left to live rather than how long they have already lives, it said.

"This means it may be more useful for health and social care policy to look at how many people have only 15 years of life expectancy remaining, rather than the number of people aged 65 and over," it said.

The biggest drop in life expectancy has comes in Inverclyde where a baby born now is expect to celebrate one fewer birthday than one born five years ago.


Source: NRS

Newborn girls in Inverclyde are expected to live 1.7 years less than those born five years ago and are expected to reach the age of 79. For boys life expectancy has dropped by 0.6 years from 75.5 years to 74.9 years.

Figures for show that deprivation has an impact on life expectancy, with females living in the least deprived areas of Scotland likely to live ten years longer than those living in the most deprived areas.

And the figures show that males living in the least deprived areas are likely to live 13 years longer than those living in the most deprived areas.

Some 30 per cent of people living in the Inverclyde council area live in the most deprived areas of Scotland.

And parts of Greenock town centre in Inverclyde have been ranked highest for levels of deprivation.

It sits at the top of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) - a measure considering seven criteria including income and health.

National Records of Scotland data shows that average life expectancy across Scotland has stalled - and for a boy born is now 77.1 years and 81.1 years for girls.

The majority of Scotland’s council areas have experienced a slow-down or a stall in life expectancy growth since 2012.

The figures also show that people living in more rural areas generally live longer than those in more urban areas.

The Western Isles' Comhairle nan Eilean Siar council area is the place to be in Scotland for a longer life showing the biggest rise in life expectancy.

A girl born now is expected to live 1.3 years longer than one born five years ago, while for boys it is 0.9 years.


Source: NRS

A Comhairle nan Eilean Siar council spokesman said that the area was consistently voted as being one of the most desirable places to live, "so quality of life may have a part to play".

He added: "The recent Personal Well-being release from ONS for April 19 – March 20 once again showed that we were the happiest place in Scotland and the least anxious."

It is closely followed by East Renfrewshire, which is home to one of the ten least-deprived areas of Scotland - Netherlee. A girl born now is expected to live 1.3 years longer than one born five years, while for boys it is 0.6 years.

The council areas that that have shown general declines in life expectancy are Argyll and Bute, Dundee City, Falkirk, Fife, Highland, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Orkney, Scottish Borders and South Ayrshire.

Julie Ramsay, head of vital events statistics at NRS, said: “The rate of life expectancy growth has stalled over the last few years in Scotland and this has been broadly reflective of the picture throughout the country."

After Inverclyde, Dundee City has seen the biggest drop in life expectancy over the last five years - 1.4 years for boys and 0.6 years for girls.

Scotland continues to have the lowest life expectancy at birth of all UK countries. Life expectancy at birth in the UK was 79.4 years for males and 83.1 years for females in 2017-2019.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Life expectancy in Scotland had been increasing in recent decades but has remained virtually unchanged since 2012-2014.

“Our Programme for Government published earlier this month includes commitments to improve life expectancy and to tackle health inequalities. "The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has shown clearly that pre-existing health inequalities have led to a significantly poorer outcome for particular groups of people. We are now putting actions in place to protect the most vulnerable and these actions will also help reduce future health inequalities.

“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."