It’s grim up north

It is estimated that 18 per cent of women in the Lancaster district smoke while pregnant.
It is estimated that 18 per cent of women in the Lancaster district smoke while pregnant.

New figures paint a grim picture of public health in the Lancaster district.

The statistics highlight a number of specific problems where the district is performing much worse than the rest of the country.

These include:

* Life expectancy

* Smoking related deaths

* Early deaths (heart disease and strokes), which are the main causes of death in Lancaster

* Road injuries and deaths.

Other problem areas include smoking in pregnancy, alcohol-related stays in hospital for under 18s, drugs misuse, hospital stays for self-harm and acute 
sexually transmitted infection.

Details of statistics for the Lancaster district were presented to the city council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee last week.

On a more positive note, the district performed well compared to the rest of the country on obesity, homelessness, children in poverty, long term unemployment, diabetes and new cases of tuberculosis. On average, men and women live between a year and two less than the national average of 78.9 (men) and 82.9 (women), while in just one year, 416 people were admitted to hospital for self harm.

Between 2010-11, it is estimated that 861 people were regular users of opiates including heroin and crack cocaine.

It is also estimated that 18 per cent of women in the Lancaster district smoke while pregnant and beyond.

Over a three year period between 2009 and 2011, 90 people died or suffered serious injuries due to a road incident in the Lancaster district.

Sakthi Karunanithi, Lancashire County Council’s director of public health, said: “It’s well-known that we face some tough health challenges across Lancashire, and we are working hard with our partners to address the issues highlighted in Public Health England’s health profile report for Lancaster.

“For example, in the case of heart disease and strokes, which are the main causes of death in Lancaster, we are working to reduce smoking and obesity, and are encouraging people to be more physically active.

“We also encourage people aged between 40 and 75 to take up the offer of free NHS health checks, and everyone in that age group will receive a letter inviting them to make an appointment.”

According to cancer charity Macmillan, in 2010, Lancashire North Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) had approximately 5,600 (3.6 per cent of the population) of people living with or beyond cancer.

The county council also addressed some of the specific issues related to problems in Lancaster, and the work it did to try to reduce the effects of bad health.

Some of the measures include stop smoking services, encouraging the government to adopt a minimum unit price for alcohol, reducing the stigma around mental health issues, sex education, and introducing 20mph limits in residential areas and outside schools.

Lancaster City Council’s overview and scrutiny committee agreed that further information on the statistics on a ward to ward basis for the district should be provided by the county council.