One and a half million northerners have died too early in the last 50 years compared to their southern counterparts.
That was the figure revealed at a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference today, which looked at closing the inequality gap between the areas.
Dr Luke Munford, from the University of Manchester, revealed Identical people in the North are 39 per cent more likely to lose their job after a bout of ill health compared to people in the South.
He referred to a report released by the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) which looked to redress the balance.
He said: “If we look at individuals instead of areas, and so we look at identical people in the North and South with the same level or education, and the same job, same age etcetera, if these people experience a spell of ill health the people in the North are 29 per cent more likely to lose their job because of that ill health than comparable people in the South.
“That’s a huge difference between almost identical individuals and different parts of the country.
“If these people then do return to work their wages are 66 per cent lower in the North than they are in the South.”
While Deputy Political Editor at the Daily Express Sam Lister noted how the report the number of people dying prematurely in the North was 20 per cent higher than in the South, she said this represented around one and a half million Northerners dying early over the last 50 years.
Seamus O’Neill, Chief Executive of the NHSA, said the health gap was a “divisive issue”.
He said: “The economic imbalance and the health imbalance, that’s difficult for people to understand, so we need to do something about that.”
Responding to a question from an audience member he said not enough has been done yet politically to address the health inequality between the North and South.
He said: “Actually worse than that I think there’s some things like public health spending being reduced which has had a disproportionate effect on the North because of the economy and the society is less wealthy overall and less easy to absorb cuts. I think that’s really hit hard and the days of austerity, that’s the honest answer.”
But he said there were positives, and pointed to the Connected Health Cities programme, which brings together health and social care data from across the North.
He said: “It has fundamentally changed the way that systems and health systems talk to each other across the north of England.”