Former chief medical officer Sir Donald Acheson was today due to call for action across government departments to reduce health inequalities.

His report on reducing inequalities in health, commissioned by the government shortly after the general election, says that although average mortality has fallen over 50 years 'inequalities have either remained the same or widened in recent decades'.

The report will outline 39 major recommendations but avoids the issue of funding.

Sir Donald told the Royal College of Physicians last month that although the independent inquiry had been asked to look at 'cost-effective and affordable interventions to reduce health inequalities', questions of affordability were for the government to decide.

The report will call for 'all policies likely to impact on health to be evaluated in terms of health inequalities'.

It will also say that a 'high priority should be given to the health of families with children' and call for further steps to reduce income inequalities.