Senior public health experts have called for action to halt growing inequality in provision of services in the north of England compared to the South.
They say premature death rates are 20% higher for people living in the north.
In a letter to The Guardian newspaper the experts from universities and other public bodies say a baby girl born in Wokingham, Berkshire, can expect nearly 17 more years of healthy life than one born in Manchester.
They say health inequality is 'not only morally wrong but economically irresponsible' and recent research shows that inequality of provision from north to south cost the UK £13.2bn a year in lost productivity.
They conclude: 'The Government has future opportunities to halt the widening gap between rich and poor in the country, and we call upon it to take action now to redress the balance.
'It must act by taking into account health inequalities in England when allocating £20bn extra for the NHS through its 10-year plan and by using next year’s spending review to reverse cuts to public health grants.'