Health Inequalities – Regional Report 2016

Date published: 26 October 2016

The Department of Health today published the 2016 regional report on health inequalities in the north of Ireland.

This biennial publication is one of a series of reports produced as part of the NI Health & Social Care Inequalities Monitoring System (HSCIMS) and presents a comprehensive analysis of health inequality gaps between the most and least deprived areas, across a range of health indicators.

Key findings

  • health outcomes are generally worse in the most deprived when compared with the least deprived areas. Large differences (health inequality gaps) continue to exist for a number of different health measures
  • overall, for the majority of the 49 indicators examined, there was little change in the size of the inequality gaps over the analysed period however, inequality gaps narrowed notably for eight indicators including admission and mortality rates for alcohol related conditions, suicide, and self-harm and drug related admission rates
  • inequality gaps widened over the period for 13 of the health indicators analysed including respiratory admission rates, smoking during pregnancy, mortality as a result of drug misuse and teenage births

Life Expectancy

  • life expectancy at birth has continued to improve in the north of Ireland and stood at 78.3 years for males and 82.3 years for females in 2012-14, with the inequality gap narrowing for males over the last five years, while remaining constant for females
  • in 2012-14, the inequality gap in life expectancy at birth stood at 7.0 years for males and 4.4 years for females, and the gap in life expectancy at age 65 was 2.8 years for males and 2.4 years for females

Largest Inequality Gaps

  • despite a reduction in the rate of teenage births between 2010 and 2014, from 27.8 to 20.5 births per 1,000 population, it showed the largest inequality gap across all indicators and gaps have widened over the last five years. The teenage birth rate in the most deprived areas (20.5 births per 1,000 females) was over five times the rate observed in the least deprived areas (4.0 births per 1,000 females) in 2014
  • alcohol, smoking and drug related indicators continue to show some of the largest health inequalities analysed. Despite a narrowing of gaps for alcohol related outcomes, the death rate in the most deprived areas remained five times the rate seen in the least deprived areas, and the admission rate in the most deprived areas for alcohol-related conditions was four times that in the least deprived
  • smoking during pregnancy in the most deprived areas (25%) was more than four times the rate among mothers in the least deprived areas (6%) in 2015, and the gap has widened over the last five years

Premature Mortality

  • premature mortality rates have generally improved across the north of Ireland, with inequality gaps remaining broadly similar. These gaps continue to be large with rates in the most deprived areas around two to three times that in the least deprived. The largest premature mortality gap was seen for respiratory disease, where the rate in the most deprived areas was over three times the rate in the least deprived areas

Mental Health

  • inequality gaps related to mental health outcomes narrowed over the last five years, though the gaps remained large, with rates of suicide and self-harm admissions in the most deprived areas three and four times respectively the rate in the least deprived

Notes to editors: 

1. The Health and Social Care Inequalities Monitoring System (HSCIMS) comprises a basket of indicators which are monitored over time to assess area differences in mortality, morbidity, utilisation of and access to health and social care services in the north of Ireland, and has expanded over recent years to include additional work streams relating to health inequality. This report is the 2016 update of the regional HSCIMS analysis and includes the latest available information.

2. Inequalities between the 20% most deprived areas (defined using the 2010 NI Multiple Deprivation Measure (NIMDM) produced by NISRA) and the 20% least deprived areas are measured. Results for the most rural areas are also compared against the regional average. The definitions for rural and urban areas are consistent with those outlined in the ‘Review of the Statistical Classification and Delineation of Settlements’ (NISRA 2015).

3. There are 49 health indicators included in the report, of which five have been introduced since the previous report of 2014; Male Life Expectancy at Age 65, Female Life Expectancy at Age 65; Standardised death rate (SDR) Avoidable Children and Young people, Primary 1 BMI: Overweight or Obese and Year 8 BMI: Overweight or Obese. In addition, the SDR All Age All Cause Mortality indicator has been replaced with the indicator SDR All Cause Mortality (Under 75) as a measure of premature mortality.

4. It should be noted that the ‘Preventable’, ‘Amenable’ and ‘Avoidable’ standardised death rates have been updated to reflect the revised definitions of avoidable mortality published by ONS in May 2016. In addition, the ‘Healthy Life Expectancy’ and ‘Disability Free Life Expectancy’ indicators have been revised to exclude communal establishments. Figures for earlier years contained in this report may differ slightly from those published in previous HSCIMS reports.

5. The results presented in this publication are based on data from General Register Office, Hospital Inpatient System, Child Health System, NI Cancer Registry, Business Services Organisation, Fire and Rescue Service, Ambulance Service, Community Information Branch and the Health Survey NI.

6. All HSCIMS reports and data tables are available to view and download from the Departmental website 

7. Additional Information:

Further information on the Health and Social Care inequalities Monitoring System is available from:

Health Inequalities Section
Public Health Information & Research Branch
Department of Health
Annexe 2, Castle Buildings
Stormont, BT4 3SQ

Tel: 028 90 522501 or 028 90 522043                        


8. Media queries about this press release please contact the DoH Press Office on 028 9052 0567. For out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt 

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