Blackpool may be a seaside town and a popular place to visit for millions of people each year, but unfortunately it is not a healthy place to live.
Our town is one of the most deprived local authorities in England with exceptionally high levels of unemployment, deprivation, poor quality housing, and benefit claimants. Add to that an ageing population, low educational achievement and people moving into the town for just short periods before leaving again, and you begin to see the problems we face. These economic factors critically impact on the poor health of our population in the same way that cancer, alcohol abuse and smoking do.
Life expectancy in Blackpool continues to be the worst in the country for men and the third worst for women. To place this into perspective a baby boy born in Blackpool could be expected to live on average five years less than the average and a baby girl 3.2 years less, compared to the rest of England. Although life expectancy is improving in the town, it isn’t improving fast enough, which continues to cause us great concern.
Tackling these health inequalities remains a significant challenge. There are many reasons why people are dying earlier in Blackpool:
• Circulatory disease such as heart attacks and stroke makes up the greatest proportion (32%).
• Cancers, especially lung, bowel, breast and prostate, are the next most frequently recorded causes of death (25%).
• Respiratory disease including bronchitis, emphysema and pneumonia make up 13% of all deaths in Blackpool.
• The average Blackpool life expectancy is reduced by 11.7 months due to alcohol related deaths.
So, why do we face such stark statistics? That is a complex question to answer but one we are determined to find the solution to. The tide has to turn in Blackpool and, until it does, we will remain focused on the needs of the people of Blackpool and make the best use of all the resources available to us in the challenge to improve health.