HEALTH DIVIDE IS 'IMMORAL' Rich have 22 more years of good health than city's poorest.
THE health gap between Cardiff's richest and poorest could see some people living more than two decades longer in good health than others in less well-off parts of the city, latest figures show.
At 22.3 years, the capital has one of the biggest gaps in healthy life expectancy between the richest and the poorest in the country.
Men in better off areas, such as Lisvane and Llanishen, can on average expect to enjoy good health until they are almost 75, whereas those in deprived areas like Ely and Butetown may only stay healthy until 52.
Figures for women are slightly better, with an overall healthy life expectancy of 65.9, and a 21.9-year gap between the richest and poorest. The divide in the city's health outcomes has been revealed in analysis by the Public Health Wales Observatory, which found the gap has been getting bigger over the past decade.
Overall, people in the poorest parts of Cardiff live an average of 12.8 years less than those in the most affluent It's parts.
they Professor Gareth Williams, of the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, said the figures made disturbing reading.
He said: "If you think of a 13-year gap in life expectancy, you are looking at whether you are going to live to see your grandchildren grow up.
"It's about people losing the opportunities to live the kind of life they want. The UK is one of the wealthier parts of the world, so to have a situation where some people are so disadvantaged is simply immoral and unjust.
"The most worrying thing is that during the period of the Labour Government in the UK there was considerable economic growth and jobs created. Even through that period the gap between the most and least deprived seems to have got wider.
"Now we're in a crisis for the economy and in parts of Wales that crisis is going to be felt particularly hard."
Dr Judith Greenacre, director of health intelligence for Public Health Wales, said the report aimed to outline inequalities so the Welsh Government, local authorities, NHS and people themselves can all take action.
Charities backed the call for more work to improve people's health.
life Iwan Rhys Roberts, of Age Cymru, said: "We need preventative healthcare strategies, such as encouraging healthy eating, being physically active, quitting smoking and only drinking alcohol in moderation, to encourage better health and prolong people's lives. The public also need access to information, services and activities that allow them to make informed choices about looking after their health."
Plaid Cymru's health spokeswoman Elin Jones AM said: "It is my concern that the health and well-being of people living in Wales' most deprived communities will suffer as the difficult economic conditions worsen." Shadow Minister for Health Darren Millar said the figures showed Welsh Labour's strategies to improve healthcare and prosperity were not working and, with the NHS budget cuts this week, its record looks set to get even worse.
Dr Tony Jewell, Chief Medical Officer for Wales, said: "The Welsh Government's action plan Fairer Health Outcomes For All, along with the report of the Bevan Commission, sets out the work that needs to be done and we are committed to taking it forward."
* Full figures online at www.walesonline.co.uk/data CASE STUDY 1 MARY Clark, 74, from Rhiwbina - one of the least deprived areas - said eating less, walking more, gardening and having nice neighbours were her tips for a healthy life.
She said: "You've got to keep busy and keep your mind busy, because an active mind helps you keep an active body.
"At the moment, we're in the Father Christmas Run, singing carols and I'm in the Neighbourhood Watch."
On why Rhiwbina might be a healthier place to live, she said: "I think it's the sense of freedom, the open spaces, the mountain air here, not being bothered by traffic. It's not like living somewhere with buses passing the door every few minutes."
HEALTHY LIFE EXPECTANCIES ACROSS SOUTH WALES Local Authority Women's healthy life expectancy Gap within area Men's healthy life expectancy Merthyr Tydfil 59.6 15.8 57.9 16.2 Caerphilly 61.1 17.4 60 19.2 Rhondda Cynon Taf 60.8 15.6 60.4 15.5 Bridgend 64.3 20.8 61.3 19.4 Cardiff 65.9 21.9 63.7 22.3 Vale of Glamorgan 67 18.7 65 20.3 Wales 65.3 17.8 63.5 18.9 CASE STUDY 2 SHELAGH Eckett, 81, from Ely - one of the more deprived parts of the city - said projects such as Age Concern's Healthy Wealthy and Wise group, to which she belongs, could help older people stay healthy for longer.
She said: "I moved to Ely when I was about 18 months old. I've been here a very long time, I've always found it a lovely place to live.
"I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.
"There's something wonderful going on every day of the week, no-one need ever be lonely.
"I go to Zumba classes. We're at the secondary school today being entertained by the children. It's been lovely to see the Year 10 children.
"There are quite a lot of poorer families around here. They call Ely a deprived area but I don't feel it's worse than anywhere else. I think everywhere should have a group like we've got."
* Shelagh Eckett, 81, from Ely, who is bucking the trend by staying healthy in later life