Life expectancy in England fell 1.3 years in pandemic

Excess deaths caused by pandemic behind drop for men and women

 Ambulances are seen outside the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the Excel Centre, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, April 6, 2020. REUTERS/Matthew Childs

Life expectancy in England has fallen to its lowest level in a decade after the coronavirus pandemic caused a surge in excess deaths.

A new report by Public Health England (PHE) has revealed that life expectancy has fallen by 1.3 years for males and 0.9 years for females. It is now 82.7 for women and 78.7 for men.

The organisation said life expectancy was the lowest since 2011 for both genders.

PHE published its Health Profile for England 2021 report on Wednesday, which it said gives the most comprehensive look at the state of the nation’s health.

It said the level of inequality in life expectancy between the most and least deprived areas for both genders was larger than all previous years for which PHE has data, therefore covering the past two decades.

The report says the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities in life expectancy by deprivation.

Covid-19 was the cause of death that contributed most to the gap in 2020 but there was higher mortality from heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic lower respiratory diseases - particularly in more in deprived areas.

Excess deaths in black and Asian groups were close to 1.50 times higher than the norm, compared with 1.12 times higher in the white group.

At the end of June, 132,053 deaths among England residents had been registered with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate, the report says.

Elsewhere in its report, PHE said dementia and Alzheimer’s disease remained the leading cause of death in England in women and the third largest in men.

Dementia was reported as the main pre-existing health condition in around a quarter of all deaths involving Covid-19 between March and June last year, the report said.

The report said half of people with a worsening health condition between May 2020 and January 2021 did not seek treatment, mostly due to not wanting to add to pressure on the NHS or for fear of catching the virus.

The report also noted the “profound effect” of the pandemic on the life of young people “through isolation and interruptions to education”.

It said: “Some of these effects will be longer-term and data are not available to measure them yet.”

In conclusion, PHE said: “The report has highlighted how the direct impact of Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionally affected people from ethnic minority groups, people living in deprived areas, older people and those with pre-existing health conditions."

Updated: September 16th 2021, 9:29 AM