Number of years that Scots can expect to live in good health falls

The number of years that Scots can expect to live in good health has fallen, with the latest figures showing the poorest in the country will spend more than a third of their lives in poor health.

Between 2018 and 2020, the average healthy life expectancy for men was 60.9 years, while women live an average of 61.8 years in good health, according to the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

Healthy life expectancy for Scots has fallen for the past four years for women and the past three for men.

Maria Kaye-Bardgett, statistician at the NRS, said: "These figures continue a trend we have seen in recent years with healthy life expectancy falling for males and females."

An elderly man, as new figures reveal that healthy life expectancy for Scots has fallen for the last four years for women and the last three for men. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire


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Healthy life expectancy is an estimate of the number of years lived in "very good" or "good" general health, based on how people perceive their state of health at the time of completing the annual population survey.

In 2017-2019, men would have expected to live 61.7 years in good health, which means there has been a drop of 39 weeks in the latest data.

And for women, the 2017-2019 figures show they would have expected good health for 61.9 years, which means there had been a drop of eight weeks.

According to the research, the most deprived communities spend on average 24 fewer years in good health than those living in the least deprived areas.


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Those in the poorest areas also die younger, the NRS said, and spend more than a third of their lives in poor health.

Orkney was the area with the highest healthy life expectancy for both men and women, at 71.2 years and 77.5 years.

In North Ayrshire, women would live in good health for only 54 years, while men in Inverclyde would live in good health for 54.4 years.

Ms Kaye-Bardgett said: "Healthy Life Expectancy is a key measure of health and wellbeing in Scotland. These figures are useful for those planning services to meet people's needs."


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The new research, which looks at Scotland between 2018 and 2020, showed that those in the richest parts of Scotland lived about 15 per cent of their lives in poor health.

Dr Sandesh Gulhane, the Scottish Conservative's health spokesman, said that the latest figures "are damning proof of the impact years of NHS mismanagement by the SNP has had on the Scottish people".

"The buck stops with Humza Yousaf (the Scottish health secretary) who must act urgently to halt the decline in the nation's health," he said.

Labour MSP Jackie Baille, the party's health spokeswoman, described the the latest figures as a "grim set of statistics, following on from a historic fall in life expectancy last year".


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And the drop was criticised by Alex Cole-Hamilton, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, who said it made him "profoundly sad to think that people are getting to enjoy fewer years of healthy life than they used to".

The Scottish Government said it was "continuing our work to increase healthy life expectancy across Scotland by implementing our bold package of measures to tackle key issues such as smoking, obesity, inactivity and alcohol misuse".

"We are also adopting a place-based approach to local health improvement, supporting joint-working across the wider public and third sectors to improve health and wellbeing and reduce inequalities," the spokesman said.


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