Inequality widens and immigration impacting health services - report

Ecclesall Road South, Ecclesall. Picture: Andrew Roe
Ecclesall Road South, Ecclesall. Picture: Andrew Roe
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Sheffield still lags behind the national average for male health inequality – while immigration is impacting services, a new report shows.

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.

Burngreave Road, Burngreave. Picture: Andrew Roe

Burngreave Road, Burngreave. Picture: Andrew Roe

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.

But the gap has improved for women from 7.4 years in 2009-11 to 6.9 years in 2011-13, in line with the national average.

The report also said Roma immigration is hitting ‘key services’ including GPs and education.

It said: “Sheffield is characterised by stark inequalities’ between different groups of people and different geographical communities. 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.

“Efforts to reduce premature and preventable mortality from cardiovascular disease, cancer, liver disease and respiratory disease remain essential alongside wider work on poverty, income and employment.”

On immigration, it added: “New arrivals and Roma immigration in the city continues to have an impact on key services including education and health services.

“Services in the areas with high numbers of new arrivals require sustained additional resources.”

The report also shows the mortality rate of people with serious mental illness has improved, down from 384 deaths per 100,000 people to 380 – but still far higher than the national average of 347.

It said there are ‘around 200 more premature deaths’ of people with serious mental illnesses in Sheffield than those people of a similar age without an illness.

Fuel poverty is also an issue leading to winter deaths: “There were almost 240 excess winter deaths in Sheffield in 2012-13, of which around two thirds were people aged 85 years and over. Reducing fuel poverty is a key factor in tackling this health inequality, alongside reducing social isolation for older vulnerable people.”

The report said ‘additional support’ should be put into the most disadvantaged areas and ‘raising standards there will have a beneficial effect on the whole community.’

It also said a new programme called Best Start Sheffield is focusing on reducing health inequalities in early years for children living in the most deprived areas.

The report said Roma classroom assistants working in Sheffield school have been given health training focusing on diseases, sexual health, use of NHS services and immunisations.

It also said a ‘detailed schools and young people plan’ will ‘provide a targeted language and learning programme’ to increase access to education services.

It added: “A range of interventions are being undertaken in the local community to tackle inequality and build cohesion. The new cohesion strategy will address some of the inequalities and the impact immigration has in the city.”

A ‘health inequalities plan’ is also being put in place for 2015-16 with a focus on mental health, learning disabilities and reducing inequalities in respiratory, cancer and cardiovascular services. The report also says the board will carry out further work on ‘the wider issues of dignity’ and dignity champions.

Community Knowledge Profiles have been set up which look at particular demographics such as ethnic minority communities and disabled people, to better understand health inequality, the report says.

The board has also developed Health Champions Programmes. The report added: “These programmes work with the most deprived communities in Sheffield to develop social capital and resilience and aim to reduce health inequalities.”

It said that rolling out 20mph zones, creating ‘neighbourhood plans’ and investing in public transport schemes are work being carried out in Sheffield towards boosting health.