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Page last updated at 08:08 GMT, Friday, 2 July 2010 09:08 UK

England's life expectancy gap 'widens'


A report from the National Audit Office indicates that the gap in life expectancy between the poorest and wealthiest parts of the population in England as a whole is continuing to widen, despite a target set by the Labour government in 2000 to narrow the gap.

Speaking on the programme, Dr Sam Everington, GP in Tower Hamlets in London, said that the government needed to address the fundamental cause of ill health. "What I would argue is what you need is a much bigger and wider role for GPs, so in our centre we provide a hundred different projects which includes a job advisor," he told Today presenter John Humphrys.

"The evidence is absolutely clear, that if you get somebody into work or if you get them trained almost in anything you will improve their health."

BMA President Sir Michael Marmot, who recently published a wider independent review into health inequalites, said he was not surprised by the new findings and that there were "persistent inequalities" in areas including income and health.

He added that the scale of the problem in London could be seen by taking a journey on the capital's Underground system. For each Tube stop east from Westminster, he said, "you lose a year of life expectancy".

The NAO looked at 70 of the most deprived parts of England. It found that people are living longer in all areas but life expectancy is increasing more slowly in poorer districts.

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