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Chief Medical Officer’s Annual Report Outlines Health Challenges in England

There is wide variation in health outcomes across the country and between different groups of people, much of which is avoidable

  • There are higher levels of ill-health and disease in deprived areas, a longstanding issue which is clear across a wide range of health indicators

  • More people are suffering from multiple chronic conditions, which particularly affects rural parts of the country that have large elderly populations and less accessible health facilities

The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has released his first independent annual report ‘Health trends and variation in England’ today.

In the report, Professor Whitty highlights that improvements in life expectancy have stalled in recent years, a trend which has also been seen in many major developed countries. He also highlights that ill-health and disease is concentrated in areas of deprivation, or where there is a higher proportion of older citizens, and that more action is needed to tackle these longstanding inequalities in health.

The report consists of a collection of data, charts and statistics that present a broad overview of the nation’s health and wider diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disease, with the aim of supporting policymakers to prioritise areas for action and monitor progress.

The report highlights both short and long-term trends in health, and the factors that influence variation in health outcomes across the nation.

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty said:

Although COVID-19 has dominated the news, and remains an urgent priority, other diseases and health problems such as cancer and cardiovascular disease continue to take a major toll.
I have brought together the latest data for health in England because they highlight major issues to tackle, identify where in the country they are heavily concentrated and trends in health over time.
There is wide variation in ill health across the country, and much of this is avoidable. It is possible to raise the health outcomes of the least healthy closer to the outcomes of the healthiest – we should be aiming for that.

While the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) states it is important to acknowledge the extraordinary impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health of the nation, the NHS and on wider society in 2020, this report focusses on wider long-term health challenges in England.

The CMO’s annual reports have been a tradition stretching back over 150 years, providing an independent assessment of the state of the public’s health in England.

Background Information

Read the CMO’s annual report

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