Taskforce looking to reduce health divide

Coun Mick Titherington
Coun Mick Titherington

A special task group has been created to help improve people’s health in South Ribble.

Following the publication of the latest Health Profile for South Ribble, by Public Health England, which showed a widening gap in life expectancy between those living in the least deprived areas and those in the most deprived areas of the borough, members of South Ribble Council’s scrutiny committee have decided to take action.

A report called ‘Mind the Gap’ has now been produced, which makes a number of recommendations to address the issue of health inequalities in the area.

Scrutiny chairman, Coun Mick Titherington, said: “It was evident that although there had been much talk about the need to tackle health inequalities, the gap in life expectancy was growing rather than narrowing.

“When you’ve got lower life expectancy, you also get a lower quality of life, research shows, so you spend more time in hospital.

“We were aware nationally there had been much research into the matter and we wanted to see what we could do at district level to practically apply effective measures that would redress the current trends.”

As previously reported in the Guardian, the Health Profile for South Ribble shows that life expectancy is almost nine years lower for men and seven years lower for women in the most deprived areas, compared to those in the least deprived parts.

Coun Titherington has now suggested residents’ health should be considered when decision are made right across the council, from priorities in the My Neighbourhood Forums to determining planning applications.

“Our recommendations call for the need for greater co-ordination between partners, the need to access hard to reach groups and to allow lifestyle choices easier to make,” he added. “The council has already accepted the report and our task now is to ensure that actions are taken so that recommendations are implemented and the objective of improving the borough’s health are met.”