Former Hull MP Alan Johnson has urged Boris Johnson to personally intervene to tackle health inequalities across England after a damning report found that life expectancy growth has stalled over the past 10 years.

The former Home Secretary and Hull stalwart said the Prime Minister should chair a cross-party Cabinet committee to tackle the issues raised in a review by Professor Sir Michael Marmot, who concluded that England had "lost a decade".

"To see health inequalities go backwards is obscene," Mr Johnson told Hull Live.

"The Prime Minister has got to get involved.

"He should chair a cross-party Cabinet Committee involving the education, health and housing departments and say, 'What do we need to do to drive this down, and let's co-ordinate our actions to do it'."

Boris Johnson

He added: "Theresa May said on the steps of Downing Street that she wanted to tackle 'burning injustices'. Boris Johnson has said something similar - so why don't they get on and deliver it?"

Mr Johnson, who has written extensively about his own experience growing up in poverty, was responding to findings in the Marmot review which showed that Yorkshire and the Humber had seen a particular backslide in health inequalities over the past decade.

The region records the highest suicide rates for women, along with the South West, and has one of the highest rates of households in financial debt.

One in five homes fails to meet the decent homes standard and life expectancy for men in the most deprived 10 per cent of neighbourhoods decreased in the region, as well as in the North East and East of England.

What was the government's response?

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: "Every single one of us, no matter who we are, where we live, or our social circumstances, deserves to lead a long and healthy life.

Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

"The ultimate goal of the NHS is to increase healthy life expectancy, and this Government is determined to narrow the gap by levelling up access to healthcare across England.

"There is still much more to do, and our bold prevention agenda, record £33.9 billion a year investment in the NHS, and world-leading plans to improve children’s health will help ensure every person can lead a long and healthy life."

Findings a 'direct result of austerity'

Mr Johnson said the problems thrown up in the Marmot review were "pretty grim" and a "direct result of austerity" that could be resolved "if you have properly funded local authorities".

Hull City Council said recently that central government grant funding had been reduced by £130m over the last 10 years -  a 55 per cent decrease for the city.

Mr Johnson said Hull was hit particularly hard with cuts because it couldn't rely on higher income council tax payers to raise funds in the way that wealthier councils were able to.

The report did not only draw strong words of condemnation from Mr Johnson, but from Hull's current MPs.

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Hull East MP Karl Turner said the findings of the review were "utterly tragic".

"Here it is, in black and white - after 100 years of improvements in life expectancy, a decade of Tory austerity has turned the clock back, as this report lays out in detail the brutal link between cuts to public services, poorer health and shorter lives.

"Michael Marmot is absolutely spot on when he says 'put simply, if health has stopped improving it is a sign that society has stopped improving.

"Ten hard years of shutting down Sure Start children's centres, reducing education funding, more insecurity at work more zero-hours contracts, and more hard-working people forced into foodbanks, mean that for places like East Hull, health has not only stopped improving, it's getting worse.

"Men and women in our region are living shorter lives than ten years ago, and we are losing more women to suicide.

"The government should be ashamed of itself. There are absolutely no excuses to turn away from the cold, hard proof of the crushing impact of their policies."

Hull North Labour MP Diana Johnson said: "It was always more of a political choice than an economic necessity by the Tories and their Lib Dem Coalition partners from 2010 to focus their deepest cuts on working families in the most deprived areas. Now we can see the devastating result of this policy.

"The decade of cuts since 2010 has started to reverse many decades of progress on extending life expectancy. Very worryingly, women in the poorest areas have been hardest hit.

Tony Blair asked Alan Johnson to stand for MP in 1997
Tony Blair asked Alan Johnson to stand for MP in 1997

"The need to reverse the cuts to services and welfare changes could not be more urgent and action to tackle health inequalities needs to be redoubled. These shocking figure also show the need to transform the local economy in and around Hull with better-paid jobs."

Fair funding review

Another area of concern for Hull is the government's forthcoming fair funding review, which will revise the way funds are allocated to local authorities.

Last month, analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) found that councils in the South could pick up millions at the expense of councils in the North, with Hull alone set to lose £14m

Mr Johnson said the government would be "very foolish" to press ahead with measures that might hurt more deprived areas in the North that his party now represents.

But he admitted there was little Labour could do in opposition to stop the Tories.

"This is the depressing fact about losing elections," he said. "There were some in the Labour party who did not seem to care much about losing the election.

"If we lost the election in 1945 then we couldn't have built the welfare state; if we lost in 1997 then there would have been no Sure Start centres.

"There is a lot for Labour to campaign for but in the end we are in an elected dictatorship with the Tories majority of 80."