THE average life expectancy of boys born in parts of Wirral is lower than those from North Korea, according to new research.
Shocking new figures from Public Health England reveal the average age in Tranmere is 66.5 years - two-and-a-half years lower than the famine-hit Communist state.
The town’s MP Frank Field said the area’s alarmingly low life expectancy underlines the Government should increase its funding for Wirral.
Mr Field, who served as child poverty adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, said: “These appalling figures are sadly to be expected when taxpayers’ money is skewed to the richest areas at the expense of the poorest.
“Despite the fact its residents have the longest life-expectancy in the country, Kensington and Chelsea will receive more per head in public health funding than Wirral this year.
“How on earth can this be fair?”
His comments echo an ongoing row between Wallasey Town Hall and the Government over cuts to council funding.
With its budget being slashed by £109m, Wirral argues the borough – along with other Northern areas - is taking a bigger hit than far wealthier regions in the South East.
Today’s public health report shows that second on the list for those with the lowest life expectancy is Hyson Green in Nottingham, where the average lifespan is 67 years.
According to research, babies born in London's affluent Knightsbridge can expect to reach 97, while those from Broadfield in Crawley can make it to 96.
Among the worst five areas for low life expectancy for women is St Helens, where baby girls are likely to live until they are 73.
Being overweight, lack of exercise, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking are factors that can lead to an earlier death.
Professor John Newton, chief knowledge officer at Public Health England, said: "Life expectancy continues to increase in England – from 2000 to 2012 it rose by 3.2 years for males and 2.4 years for females.
"However, despite this welcome overall increase profound inequalities in life expectancy persist across the country, between men and women and between the most and least deprived areas.
"The evidence is clear - a person’s likelihood of dying early varies widely between areas due to differences in risk factors such as being overweight, lack of exercise, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, but these factors are also closely linked to economic deprivation and other aspects of the way we live that may be beyond an individual's control.
"If we are to change the current pattern of early mortality many different public agencies need to work together with industry and local people to create healthy communities and healthy places to live across the whole country.”
Wirral Public Health Chief:
Fiona Johnstone, Wirral’s Director of Public Health, said: “The stark picture painted by this information is not new to local people or agencies.
"We know that health inequalities are a result of a complex relationship between a number of factors particularly poverty, unemployment and lifestyle choices.
“In our work, we target our areas of greatest need eg. Rock Ferry and Tranmere, however I want to emphasise that we are doing this work in partnership with local people as we want to focus on what is strong in the area not what is wrong.
“We are working with local people to develop and deliver a range of services that will allow them to live longer healthier lives, these include:
• Rock Ferry One Stop Shop which includes the local library which actively promotes a range of healthy lifestyle services.
• The Live Well programme which provides a range of services for people to change their lifestyles - stop smoking, lose weight.
• Healthy takeaway scheme – the environmental health team is working with local takeaways to help them provide a healthier offer to local people, e.g. changing the fat used for frying, reduction in the amount of salt used.
• A range of fitness equipment has been provided in Victoria Park to encourage local people to become more active
• Development of the neighbourhood centre at St Catherine’s Community Hospital
• Reachout team – 'Involve North West' supporting people to get back into employment
“We have already achieved a great deal in Wirral; the health of the population in general is improving, premature deaths from conditions such as heart disease are reducing, and life expectancy is increasing.
"However, we still have considerable challenges ahead to tackle health inequalities.”