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Greater Manchester Study Shows Wigan & Bolton People Living Longer

Written by John Nicoll

People living in Wigan and Bolton are living longer than in previous generations, according to a new Greater Manchester study suggesting that devolution has been a key contributing factor.

The study from The Lancet Public Health showed that people in Greater Manchester have lived longer since the devolution deal gave the region more control over a range of services including health and social care.

Greater Manchester Leaders agreed a ground-breaking devolution deal with the government in 2014, which gave the county more control on how to spend budgets and the introduction of an elected mayor.

The Health Foundation funded study, published in The Lancet Public Health, showed that between 2014-16 and 2017-19:

  • Life expectancy was 0.2 years higher in Greater Manchester than in comparable areas in England
  • The change in Greater Manchester was 2.2 times larger than the average for England
  • Men (0.34 years) saw a significantly larger increase in life expectancy than women (0.06 years)
  • Statistically significant increases in life expectancy were observed in eight boroughs, with the exceptions being Rochdale (where it fell) and Oldham (where there was no change)
  • In the short-term, life expectancy remained constant in Greater Manchester but declined in comparable areas in England.
  • In the longer term, life expectancy increased at a faster rate in Greater Manchester than in the rest of the country
  • Improvements in life expectancy were larger in areas which had the worst levels of income deprivation and lowest life expectancy prior to devolution

Dr Britteon said: “The study shows modest improvements in life expectancy in Greater Manchester compared to comparable areas in the rest of the country from the introduction of devolution until the start of the Covid-2019 pandemic in 2020.

“This finding may have been driven by a combination of changes in response to the health and social care devolution agreement, the devolution of powers over wider public services, the election of a new mayor, or earlier steps to improve population health prior to devolution.

“The findings support the suggestion that devolved systems are able to more closely identify and address the needs of local populations.

“However, further research is required to understand the mechanisms behind the estimated effect.”