LANCASHIRE'S director of public health has warned that 'health inequalities in our county are widening'.

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi highlights in his annual report for 2019/2020 that the gap in female life expectancy between the most and least deprived areas has widened from 7.8 years in 2012 to 8.1 years in 2017.

He also points out that male healthy life expectancy has been decreasing in Lancashire since 2009 and 'is significantly worse that the England average' at 17.5 years.

Dr Karunanithi's report says: "Burnley is the most deprived authority area within the county council area. Hyndburn, Pendle and Preston are also in the 20 per cent most deprived areas in England. Ribble Valley is the only Lancashire district in the least deprived 20 per cent.

"Burnley, Hyndburn, and Pendle are also ranked in the 20 per cent most deprived areas in England for the health deprivation and disability.

"Extreme inequalities can be found across a range of indicators; the percentage of Year 6 children who are overweight or obese in Lostock Hall, South Ribble is 25.9 per cent whereas the percentage is 45.8 per cent in Daneshouse with Stoneyholme, Burnley."

The latest Public Health England figures show average life expectancy in Lancashire is highest in Ribble Valley at 81.2 years and lowest in Burnley at 76.2. Hyndburn's figures is 76.7, Pendle's 78.1, and Rossedale's78.6. The England average is 79.9 and the county figure is 78.5.

The county's Labour health spokesman Cllr John Fillis said: "Health inequalities are widening and if we fail to focus on prevention and wellbeing, life expectancy and healthy life expectancy would get worse. This would not only be a personal tragedy for individuals, their families and friend it would also have an impact on the productivity of the local economy. Conservative austerity is costing people’s lives in Lancashire."

Cllr Shaun Turner,the county council's Conservative health boss, said: “We aware of national trends around widening health inequalities. In Lancashire we are tackling this by working much closer than ever before with our partners not just in health but in all sectors as part of a whole system approach."

He added: “This is about capitalising on existing community assets and green infrastructure and building resilience into communities via encouraging healthy lifestyles.”