Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Concern over Solihull's lingering life expectancy gap

THOSE living in Solihull’s most deprived communities continue to have a life expectancy many years less than residents from better off parts of the borough.
The dramatic difference in living standards between areas just a few miles apart was laid bare by the latest Public Health Annual Report, released a few weeks ago.
While the figures show that Solihull residents generally are living “longer, healthier lives”, the document acknowledged that premature deaths, poor health and disability continue to have a disproportionate impact on certain areas.
Indeed, the data shows that the gap in average life expectancy between the least and most deprived groups is almost 13 years for men and just under 10 for women.
Responding to the latest figures, Solihull Council has said it is continuing to invest in a range of initiatives to improve health across the borough.
Although councillors who represent some of the most deprived wards believe that far more should be done to tackle the wider inequalities which they argue are at the heart of the problem.
Coun James Burn (Green, Chelmsley Wood) called on the local authority to commit to initiatives including building more affordable housing, creating better paid jobs and encouraging local businesses.
“The link between poor health and living on allow income is well-proven and hugely important,” he said.
“The fact people in North Solihull die over a decade before those in South Solihull is a real scandal, and one the council have failed to address in any significant way whatsoever.”
Fellow Green councillor Mark Wilson (Smith’s Wood) said that he had lived on both sides of the Coventry Road and suggested there had been “a lack of resources and investment” in the North.
“In [South Solihull] there are 4,000 on the books at the local GP. I’ve walked in and been seen on the same day.
“At Chelmsley Wood, if you didn’t get through immediately there was no chance of an appointment.”
As well as a dramatically reduced life expectancy, those from the most deprived parts of Solihull tend to be worse affected by long-term health conditions in later life.
Killer diseases such as cancer and heart disease are more common, as are damaging habits such as smoking.
Coun Karen Grinsell, the cabinet member for adult social care and health, acknowledged that good health “is not consistent” in the borough and said that the council was committed to a range of projects to address this.
She said:“The council already commissions a number of organisations such as [Chelmsley Wood social enterprise] Gro-organic; Warwickshire Wildlife and Man v Fat, which all target communities
of need and support overall wellbeing by providing in particular, good opportunities for social connectivity, and physical activity.
“Solihull Council is working closely with health and community partners to develop local services that address the health and well-being needs of all Solihull people.”

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