The health gap between the most affluent and most deprived wards within each local authority "remains unacceptable", the Department of Health has said, following the publication today (24 June 2008) of health profiles for every local authority and region across England.
The profiles, published by DH and the Association of Public Health Observatories, use key health indicators to capture a picture of the nation's health down to a local level, providing areas across England with information to improve their population's health.
The profiles suggest that while people in England can expect to live longer and healthier lives, significant inequalities remain.
The death rate from smoking in the local authority with the lowest rate (139 per 100,000 in East Dorset) is less than half that in the local authority with the highest death rate from smoking (355 per 100,000 in Knowsley).
And in general, smoking is still causing a higher rate of death in the north of England compared to the south.
Men in the local authority with the highest life expectancy (Kensington and Chelsea, 83.1 years) can expect to live 10 years longer than those in the local authority with the lowest life expectancy (Manchester, 73 years).
Women in the local authority with the highest life expectancy (Kensington and Chelsea, 87.2 years) can expect to live nine years longer than those in the local authority with the lowest life expectancy (Liverpool, 78.3 years).
The government recently announced its renewed commitment to tackling the stark inequalities in England with the launch of its Health Inequalities: Progress and Next Steps report, which sets out measures for the NHS and local authorities to implement.
Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said: "The NHS and local authorities can use these profiles to target local health hotspots with effective measures to make a real difference.
"I am confident that we can confront the issues facing communities head on and make health inequalities everyone's business."
The Association of Public Health Observatories, with the DH, have also published a companion "Health inequalities Intervention tool", which enables every English local authority to model the effect of four high-impact interventions on their life expectancy gap.
The four interventions are: smoking cessation; treating undiagnosed high blood pressure; statin prescribing to reduce blood cholesterol; and reducing infant mortality.