Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Health
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Medical notes 
Background Briefings 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Liz MacKean
"Its promise to eradicate poverty within 20 years
 real 28k

Sean Brickell
"Link between poor health and poverty"
 real 28k

Scottish Health Minister Susan Deacon
"We're putting an extra 4bn into education and health"
 real 28k

Dr Derek Munday, Glasgow & Dr Ken Hardern, W'ham
GP's from Wokingham and Glasgow discuss the issues
 real 28k

Thursday, 2 December, 1999, 15:40 GMT
North-south health divide 'widening'

The north-south divide in standards of health and wealth is at its widest since records began, a report says.

Scotland experiences some of the worst health and highest rates of poverty in Britain, according to researchers at the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research at Bristol University.

The study - which looked at health and wealth indicators by parliamentary constituency - found that Glasgow topped the poor health table.

Six of the city's constituencies are included in a table of the UK's worst 15.

The highest mortality rate is recorded in Glasgow Shettleston, which has a death rate 2.3 times the national average - and 3.4 times that of the most healthy area, Wokingham, in Berkshire.
Health-wealth divide facts
Infant mortality rates are two times higher in Salford than in South Suffolk
1990s mortality rates for deaths under 65 have risen to 2.6 times higher in areas such as Manchester Central than in areas like Sheffield Hallam

Glasgow Govan has 2.8 times as many people with a limiting long-term illness than Wokingham.

Infant mortality rates are twice as high in Glasgow Anniesland - the constituency of Scotland's First Minister Donald Dewar - as in Esher and Walton in Surrey.

The Scottish Nationalist Party has condemned the statistics and called for the Scottish Parliament to be given "full control of all fiscal policies".

Spending to increase

Health spokeswoman Kay Ullrich said: "Spending on public services in Scotland is set to increase by a mere 1.8% per annum during the comprehensive spending review period, compared to an increase of 4.5% in England."

Authors and editors of The Widening Gap say that the health differences are a result of "increasing inequalities in income and wealth".
Health-wealth divide facts
GCSE failure rates are 1.5 times higher in the worst health areas compared to the best
There are 4.2 times as many households with children living in poverty in the worst health constituencies, compared to the best health constituencies

One of the report's authors Professor George Davie Smith said: "The difference between the better off and the worse off has increased absolutely dramatically.

"Even in the last couple of years under a new government there has been rather little relative to what has happened over the last 20 years to reduce that."

Shettleston GP Dr Alan McKinnon said: "Well I think we see far more premature heart disease, we see cancers of all sorts far more prevalent in this area than in more well off areas, we see far more alcoholism, we see far more abuse of hard drugs, we see obesity as a growing problem in this area, as it is indeed throughout Scotland.

"We see the results of that in higher levels of diabetes, we see very high levels of mental illness. These are, I think, the signs of poverty."

graffitti stairs The report links poor health and poverty
Scottish Health Minister Susan Deacon said: "We're putting an extra 4bn into health and education over the next three years.

"That's significant additional investment into these services but, just as importantly, we're making sure that those resources are targeted particularly to individuals and communities in the greatest need."

The book lists the premature mortality and poverty rates for each of the 641 British parliamentary constituencies and lists the MPs and the political party they represent.

Other findings included:

  • Average household incomes in the worst health areas are 70% of those in the best health areas
  • In the best health areas there are 9.1 times more households with three or more cars and 6.5 times as many households with seven or more rooms than in the worst health areas
  • There are 3.6 times as many people not working in the worst health areas compared to the best health areas

    The authors found that in general, people with less money and worst health chances are represented by Labour.

    The authors say that current government policy on social exclusion will not be enough to change the trend, and they are calling for a radical redistribution of wealth.


    SMR<65 - Age-sex standardised mortality ratios for deaths under 65, men and women.
    Avoidable - Percentage of deaths which would not have occurred if the "worst health" areas had the death rate of the "best health" areas
    Infant mortality rate - Death rate per 10,000 in the first year of life
    % children in poverty - % of households with children living in poverty, using the Breadline Britain poverty index
    SIR<65 - Age-sex standardised illness ratio for under 65s, using limiting long-term illness rates

  • Search BBC News Online

    Advanced search options
    Launch console

    See also:
    02 Dec 99 |  Scotland
    Glasgow: Bad for your health?
    22 Nov 99 |  Scotland
    Executive aims to end child poverty
    24 Nov 99 |  Scotland
    Prosperity 'a tale of two cities'
    16 Nov 99 |  Business
    Help for the 'financially excluded'
    09 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
    Child poverty to be 'halved in a decade'
    04 Nov 99 |  Health
    Social exclusion: Behind the headlines

    Internet links:

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
    Links to other Health stories are at the foot of the page.

    E-mail this story to a friend

    Links to more Health stories