Scottish public health expert launches new analysis of life expectancy rates at FPH in Scotland's Annual Conference

02 November 2018, FPH Policy & Communications Team

Recent figures produced by National Records of Scotland show life expectancy is declining for the first time in 60 years, and the inequality in premature deaths between the poorest and wealthiest parts of our population is growing. As over 200 public health professionals gather at the Scottish Faculty of Public Health conference this week, Dr Lynda Fenton (NHS Health Scotland) presents detailed new analysis which shows how trends in mortality rates actually began to change markedly around 2012.

Commenting on the findings Rebecca Campbell, Chair of the Faculty of Public Health in Scotland’s Advocacy and Policy Committee, said: “The slow down in life expectancy in Scotland has been a problem for a number of years and worryingly, it is now beginning to fall.

"The new analysis launched at FPH in Scotland's Annual Conference shows that from 2012 to 2016, Scotland saw the smallest increases in life expectancy since the Second World War. Only the rest of the UK and the USA have seen more marked stalling, with many high-income countries seemingly unaffected, and so these changes are not inevitable.

"Earlier this year, work by NHS Health Scotland also found that thousands of people in our poorest areas are living with avoidable illnesses and dying earlier than would be expected. These inequalities are unfair, and the Faculty of Public Health in Scotland is committed to working with partners and communities to effectively tackle this problem.

"It is not yet clear what is causing the recent decline in life expectancy or the increase in health inequality. However, it is likely that several interconnected factors are involved including austerity, changes to the social security system, the economic downturn and flu. As public health professionals in Scotland we are working hard to understand the causes of these trends better, because we believe everyone in Scotland has a right to a healthy life and a fairer future."


Notes to editors

Key stats from Dr Fenton’s presentation:

  • Over the past 25 years death rates have fallen steadily in Scotland, and life expectancy has increased
  • These trends of mortality improvement have changed markedly since around 2012
  • The period 2012-2016 saw amongst the smallest life expectancy gains in the post-war period: women’s life expectancy increased, on average, by 2.5 weeks per year, compared with 11 weeks per year in the preceding 5 years. Men’s life expectancy increased, on average, by 4.5 weeks per year, compared with 17.3 weeks per year in the preceding 5 years
  • A number of other countries, with higher life expectancy, are maintaining greater mortality improvements, suggesting these changes are not inevitable

About the Faculty of Public Health in Scotland's Annual Conference

The focus of FPH in Scotland's 2018 Conference is the right to health, including public health ethics, equality and values. To read more about the agenda, click here, and to follow live updates on Twitter, follow FPH in Scotland on Twitter @FPHScot or search the Conference hashtag: #ScotPublicHealth.

About the UK Faculty of Public Health

FPH is a membership organisation for 4,000 public health professionals from across the UK and around the world, and is a registered charity. Our role is to improve the health and wellbeing of local communities and national populations. We support the training of public health professionals and campaign to improve health policy in partnership with local and national governments.

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