The first annual report produced by Lancashire’s Director of Public Health has highlighted the fact that while people are living longer, they are often facing years of ill-health at the end of their lives.
The report by Dr Sakthi Karunanithi highlights a number of key issues:
• While people are generally living longer, life expectancy and the number of years for which people enjoy good health in Lancashire are less than the national average.
• Work to address health inequalities is needed both in deprived communities and more affluent ones.
• Protecting and promoting good health are not just social issues, but crucial for our local and national economy.
The report calls on public services and businesses to work with local communities to develop Lancashire as a ‘county of wellbeing’, where people can expect to have safer, fairer and healthier lives.
Dr Karunanithi explained: “This report identifies issues and sets out some of the work that is taking place to tackle them. For example, while people are living longer, they’re often doing so while dealing with serious health conditions. At the heart of this report, we’re clear that we need to improve people’s lives.
“We need to address health inequalities, not just in the most deprived communities but across the county as a whole. Protecting and promoting good health is not just a social issue, but also crucial for our local and national economy.
“Illness doesn’t just affect people’s lives, it also costs the British economy around £100bn each year through days people are off work – this is greater than the NHS budget for 2013/14 and comparable to the entire Gross Domestic Product of Portugal.”
According to the report, smoking rates remain higher in Lancashire than the national average, especially for young people and pregnant women.
In Lancashire, more than 30% of adults are classed as inactive, which leads to 284 premature deaths per year.
Almost a quarter of people in Lancashire (24%) are estimated to binge drink.
And the percentage of overweight and obese adults in Lancashire is almost 1% higher than the national average (64.7% compared to 63.8%).
The report outlines the major causes of death that reduce life expectancy within the county, compared to the national average. T
These include circulatory problems, cancer and respiratory problems, which account for more than half of all deaths of people who were below the average British life expectancy.
Actions are set out in the report to tackle some of the health problems and help people to live longer.
County Councillor Azhar Ali, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Health is everybody’s concern and Dr Karunanithi’s report highlights some significant issues for people and organisations throughout Lancashire.
“Ultimately our own behaviours contribute a lot to how healthy we are, so there’s an element of personal responsibility for us all in helping to make Lancashire a healthier place.
“For people who make decisions that affect other people’s health, the influence is even greater. That includes the likes of district councils and the NHS, but also parents, family and friends, and local businesses.
“The county council will use this report to inform decisions that support better health and I hope it will also rally people behind our call to make Lancashire a county of wellbeing.”