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What was the healthy life expectancy of people at Birth and at Age 65?

ONS analysis looks at variation by Clinical Commissioning Groups in 2010-12

Healthy Life Expectancy (HLE) is based on subjective self-assessed health and adds value to life expectancy by estimating average lifetime spent in a favourable state of health. These measures are being used more in health and social care resource planning and policy, to gauge things like pension provisions, fitness for work, pension ages, and population health needs assessment.

This analysis uses census data to look at HLE by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). CCGs became legally operational in April 2013 in England to replace Primary Care Trusts and they are responsible for commissioning care at local level such as maternity, hospital and emergency services, with the involvement of local GPs. Their primary aims include: a fair distribution of health resources and a reduction in health inequalities.

In the last few decades, life expectancy has increased for males and females and there are several explanations for an increased ageing population: advances in medical care, greater access to life saving health care, adopting healthier lifestyles and improving living conditions. It is interesting to know whether longer life expectancies are accompanied by a favourable state of health among the ageing population.

At birth, males expected to spend 15.7 years in poor health and females 18.2 years

National life expectancy for a male born in England was 79.2 years, with 15.7 years spent in ‘Not Good’ health, whilst life expectancy for females was higher at 83.0 years with 18.2 years spent in ‘Not Good’ health. Females showed higher HLE at birth than males in all except 7 CCGs. The HLE gap between CCGs was wider for females (19.7 years) than males (17.8 years) whereas the LE gap was wider for males (9.1 years) than females (6.5 years).

The top ten CCGs (those with the highest HLE) were located around the local authority areas with low levels of deprivation, mainly in areas to the south and west of London. NHS Guildford and Waverley had the highest healthy life expectancy for males (70.3 years) and females (71.3 years) at birth. The bottom ten CCGs (those with the lowest HLE) were located around areas with some of the highest levels of deprivation, mainly to the North, the Midlands and some ethnically diverse parts of East London.  The lowest HLE at birth was in NHS Bradford City for males (52.5 years) and females (51.6 years). There was a clear North-South divide in the top and bottom 10, as can be seen in the map below.

Healthy Life Expectancy (HLE) at birth for NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), England, 2010-12

Map showing HLE at birth for NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in England between 2010 and 2012

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Largest healthy life expectancy gap between men and women at age 65 was in NHS Richmond

To gauge the extent of healthy life in later ages, HLE at age 65 is used. Men in England could expect to live another 9.2 years in ‘Good’ health, and women slightly more at 9.7 years. However there are stark differences between LE and HLE. Men in England are estimated to live a further 18.6 years at the age of 65, but half (9.4 years) of this would be in ‘Not Good’ Health. For women in England they’re expected to live a further 21.1 years but more than half (11.4 years) of this would be spent in ‘Not Good’ health. Overall, women at age 65 have longer LE and HLE than men but men spend a greater proportion of their life in ‘Good’ health.  

The largest difference in HLE at age 65 between men and women was in NHS Richmond where women live 1.4 more years in a state of ‘Good’ health than men. The proportion of life spent in ‘Good’ health for men at age 65 was lowest in NHS North Manchester (32.9%) and highest in NHS Guildford and Waverley (61.7%); nearly double that of NHS North Manchester. However for women, the proportion of life spent in ‘Good’ health in NHS Guildford and Waverley (58.1%) was more than double the proportion of life spent in ‘Good’ health in NHS Bradford City (27.3%).

Where can I find out more about healthy life expectancy statistics?

These statistics were analysed by the Health Analysis team at ONS. The analysis is based on data collected from the Census. If you would like to find out more about the latest healthy life expectancy statistics, you can read the release or visit the health and social care theme page. If you have any comments or suggestions, we would like to hear them. Please email us at:

Categories: Population, People and Places
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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