Published Monday 3 November 2014 at 13:15
The life expectancy of residents in Blackburn with Darwen has increased faster than the national average over the past 10 years according to a recent report.
‘Due North: the report of the inquiry on health equity for the north’ is the outcome of an independent inquiry commissioned by Public Health England.
The report highlights a health divide both within northern towns and cities and between the north and south of England but says that, locally, Blackburn with Darwen has bucked a national trend by being very successful in improving life expectancy between 2001-11.
The report shows that the borough has improved life expectancy by 3.2 years in that 10 years – one of the biggest rises in life expectancy in the borough’s recorded history – placing it in the top performing 25 per cent of northern local authorities and even outperforming the national average for wealthier southern Local Authority areas – who historically find it easier to make health improvements to their population’s life expectancy.
Health work including the Council’s innovative re:fresh scheme has played a vital part in this. The creation of the Council’s new Wellbeing Service also addresses many of the recommendations in the report.
Blackburn with Darwen’s Director of Public Health, Dominic Harrison, sat on the panel of the national inquiry which worked to identify actions that can reduce the gap in health and life expectancy between the north and south.
“This is brilliant news. The report asks how is it that some Local Authority areas such as Blackburn with Darwen have been able to improve health outcomes faster than the average in the face of adverse circumstances while other places with similar challenges have struggled? I think a large part of the explanation lies in the fact that we are a small unitary authority, we have got a vibrant, connected community that has taken a whole public sector approach to improving health through partnerships with the NHS and the voluntary sector.
“Across the public sector we have collectively funded some big health programmes aimed at prevention and public health improvements such as the re:fresh free leisure services offer which we know has had an important impact for the whole population and as a Council we have been tackling many of the things that we know will improve life expectancy – especially for the most vulnerable . We have also got some excellent GP primary care services across the Borough”
Councillor Mohammed Khan, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, added:
“I’m delighted. It’s not just about treating ill-health but about doing the things we know will promote good health, thereby building resilience against risk. Re:fresh is once again key, encouraging the people we know are least likely to exercise to take up an activity and eat more healthily.”
Dr Chris Clayton, Clinical Chief Officer for Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) added:
“Blackburn with Darwen residents rightly expect to receive patient care, that is consistent, integrated and high quality and, through a joined up approach to health care right across the borough, I am delighted that we have managed to buck a trend and improve life expectancy so impressively.”