HEALTH experts from the region have formed an alliance in response to worsening health inequalities between the North and the rest of the country.

More than half of the North has a lower life expectancy than the worst area in the South, while the North-East has the lowest life expectancy in the country.

The Northern Universities’ Public Health Alliance is being launched to tackle the issue.

Research by the University of Manchester found in 66 per cent of areas in the North, female life expectancy is lower than the area with the lowest female life expectancy in the South.

The figure is 46 per cent of areas for male life expectancy.

The Northern Echo:

The figures have worsened since 2014, when the Due North report, looking at how to improve health inequity in the region, was published.

Professor David Burn, chair of the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), which is linking with N8 Research Partnership and Public Health England to form NUPHA, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University, said: “We know that health inequalities across the North of England are entrenched and worsening.

"We also know that a third of the productivity gap between the North and the rest of the UK is due to ill health – losing £13.2bn from the UK economy each year.

“Tackling the North’s ill health is vital to growing a vibrant UK economy – an investment in the health of the North is an investment in the entire country, equipping it to move forward into a truly vibrant 21st century economy.

“This world-leading research network gives us the opportunity for a genuinely place-based approach to tackling health inequalities.”

NUPHA, which described the issue as an "enduring challenge" is aimed at working collaboratively across the North to highlight the inequalities within the region and between the North and the rest of England.

The average life expectancy is two years lower in the North than the rest of England while in the North-East the life expectancy at birth is 77.9 for men and 81.6 for women – the lowest in the country.

The Northern Echo:

Professor David Burn, from the University of Newcastle

A statement by the alliance said: "Health inequalities are an enduring challenge across the North of England with evidence that the health gap between the poorest and the richest has been increasing over recent years.

"There is a substantial health gap between the North and the rest of England, with average life expectancy two years lower in the North."

The full NUPHA statement adds that increasing the NHS budget by 10 per cent in the North would decrease economic inactivity rates by three percentage points and improving health could reduce the £4 gap in productivity between the North and the rest of England by 30 per cent, or £1.20 per-person per-hour.