What are health inequalities?

There are stark differences in life expectancy and quality of health throughout the country. These avoidable health gaps are a social injustice.

Our work tackles the socio-economic factors behind this inequality – often called the social determinants of health. We want to see health inequalities replaced by health equity – a fair chance for everyone to live a long, healthy life.

Members of the Coffee and Laughs intercultural women's group project

The cost of health inequality

£5.5
billion

How much health inequalities cost the NHS in England every year

13.5
years

Men born in the most disadvantaged area in Scotland die 13.5 years younger than those born in affluent areas

19 years

Women in the most disadvantaged parts of England can expect to live 19 fewer years in good health.

The social determinants of health

The basic requirements that affect our life expectancy and make us healthy can be economic, social or environmental.

These health factors – often called the social determinants of health – are the reasons for the differences in life expectancy and quality of health throughout the country. As well as where we are born and live, other factors, such as discrimination and racism, are also a critical part of the inequality picture.

Communities of interest

As well as where we are born and live, other factors, such as discrimination and racism, also have an impact on our health. Find out more about our work with communities who have shared identities or experiences and wish to come together to address issues that are important to them.

Partnerships and Campaigns

We work with partners across Great Britain to act on the causes of health inequalities through policy, research and campaigns.

Mental health

Mental health can impact on our physical health and ultimately lead to reduced life expectancy. Our mental health can be affected by our environment and factors such as income, social connections and quality of housing. Read more