The Star Says: Health of city is the greatest priority

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There’s nothing more important than our health, so it is worrying that the latest figures for Sheffield show a city divided with inequalities in health and wellbeing linked to wider social, cultural and economic issues.

And there is further concern that, according to the report, Roma immigration is hitting ‘key services’ including GPs and education.

The area in which Sheffield still lags behind the national average is for male health inequality.

The gap in life expectancy between the richest and poorest men is worse now than it was five years ago, after a peak in 2011, according to the latest Sheffield Health and Wellbeing Board report.

The report says the gap in life expectancy at birth between the most and least deprived men in the city was 9.7 in 2012-13, against 9.6 years in 2010-2011, after a peak of 10 years in 2011-12.

That puts Sheffield behind the England average of 9.1 years and fifth out of the eight main cities in England.

The report doesn’t make for pleasant reading, particularly if you live in an area that is on the wrong side of the divide.

“Sheffield is characterised by stark inequalities’ between different groups of people and different geographical communities,” it says. “People in the most deprived parts of the city still experience a greater burden of ill-health and early death than people in less deprived areas, demonstrating that inequalities in health and wellbeing are linked to wider social, cultural and economic issues.”

In this day and age it is distressing that money, essentially, can buy you good health.

Sheffield is a big place nationally but for there to be almost a decade in the difference of life expectancy between a man who lives on one side and one who lives on the other side is enough to make you stop and think.

The Roma immigration, which is hitting key services, is also a cause for concern.

Whilst accepting that is can never be easy to move to a new country and culture it can only be good that this report highlights what many of our readers have been telling us for some time.

Now that there is recognition that services are being affected more must be done – not only to help the Roma community to adjust but also for those who have seen waiting times at GPs and class sizes go up.

It’s not easy keeping a city healthy. However, there can be no greater priority for those who bear this responsibility.