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Website to tackle health problems

A new interactive website has been launched to help practice nurses increase the life expectancy of patients in disadvantaged areas.

The Health Inequalities Intervention Tool can also be used by Primary Care Trusts and councils to prioritise methods that will make the biggest difference.

The Department of Health is targeting it at the 70 Spearhead areas, covering a fifth of local authorities in England and Wales, where deprivation, cardiovascular disease and cancers affect life expectancy.

It provides different approaches to smoking cessation, cutting infant deaths, and ways to tackle heart problems.

The average life expectancy in England is currently 76.9 years for men, and 81.1 years for women.

But in the Spearhead areas it stands at 74.9 years for men, and 79.6 for women.

Health minister Dawn Primarolo said: "Tackling health inequalities is a priority for the Department of Health and the NHS.

"We have set targets that need to be achieved by 2010, including a 10% reduction in the difference in life expectancy at birth between the fifth of areas with the worst health and deprivation, and England as a whole.

"Our task now is to support local NHS and local authority service planners, commissioners and frontline staff to deliver on those targets, and this is an excellent example of giving staff in Spearhead areas the tools to do the job and to do it well."

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Department of Health