Life expectancy gap between rich and poor in Northamptonshire

File picture
File picture

Men living in deprived areas of Northamptonshire are dying nine years earlier than those in affluent areas, according to a newly published report.

The life expectancy figures are revealed in the 2017/18 annual public health report written by the county council’s director of public health Lucy Wightman.

The report also records that those living in more deprived areas of the county spend 13 fewer years in good health than those in richer areas.

The average life expectancy for a Northamptonshire woman is 83 years and 79 years for a man.

This is in line with the national average.

The report says: “Against national comparisons, Northamptonshire’s outcomes are varied.

“Life expectancy is similar to the national average, however in deprived areas of the county the difference in life expectancy is substantial.

“For example, a boy born today in the poorer parts of the county has a life expectancy 9.4 years lower than one in the most affluent parts of the county, while a girl’s life expectancy is 6.1 years lower.

“Additionally, both males and females living in the most deprived areas of the county can expect to spend around 13 fewer years in good health compared to those in the most affluent areas.”

According to the report there are 120,000 residents living in deprivation, which equates to 16 per cent of the Northants population.

All of the county’s different districts have deprived areas within them but there are more areas of deprivation in urban centres such as Northampton, Corby, Wellingborough and Kettering.

The report says: “These areas are also more likely to see higher rates of unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking, unhealthy diets and excessive alcohol consumption which then lead to poorer health and well-being outcomes.

“Almost half of the gap in life expectancy between the most and least deprived areas of the county is due to excess deaths from heart disease, stroke and cancer, much of which is caused by lifestyle choices.

“These are also the diseases that make up a large proportion of the burden of premature death in the county and England.”

County councillor Eileen Hales, who represents the Windmill ward in Kettering, said the figures were shocking.

She said: “It is appalling to have such a difference within a single county.

“There is a case for more resources but I think this is about education.

“And we do need to know what the root causes are.

“There needs to be some serious research and analysis so that we can get to the bottom of this and develop some strategies.”

The councillor also criticised the report and said it did not have an overview of what projects have been undertaken in the past 12 months and their results.

The role of the director of public health is to inform and advise the public and various agencies such as health organisations and the police to increase the health and well-being of Northamptonshire residents.

Last year, before Lucy Wightman was in the director role, the county authority mis-spent £8m of the £35m it was given by the Public Health authority.

Rather than spending on projects that led to specified public health outcomes, the £8m was spent within the adult social care.

The authority, which is in severe financial trouble and is being overseen by two government appointed commissioners, now has to repay these funds and add them back into public health.