Sheffield neighbourhood among worst in England for asthma, as city's health divide is laid bare

One neighbourhood in Sheffield has the fifth highest rate of asthma in England, new research shows.

By Robert Cumber
Wednesday, 23 January, 2019, 14:48

But other parts of the city have among the lowest prevalence of conditions including dementia, diabetes and obesity, the analysis has found.

Statistics published by the House of Commons Library lay bare the startling health inequalities within Sheffield, where life expectancy has previously been shown to differ dramatically between areas just a few miles apart.

Asthma rates in Arbourthorne are among the highest in England (pic: Clive Gee/PA Wire)

Asthma rates in Arbourthorne are the fifth highest in England, with nine per cent of residents there estimated to be affected by the condition, compared to the national average of 5.9 per cent.

But people living in Sheffield’s City Centre North neighbourhood are among the least likely in the country to have dementia, diabetes, high blood pressure or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

It is among the three areas in England with the lowest rates of dementia, diabetes and high blood pressure, and is seventh best for COPD.

The research also shows which neighbourhoods have the highest rates of other common health conditions, including obesity (pic: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire)

Ranmoor also fares well, ranking 10th best for the prevalence of COPD and 12th for obesity; City Centre West has the fifth lowest rate of high blood pressure and 12th lowest prevalence of dementia; and Broomfield is 13th best nationally for diabetes.

Greg Fell, Sheffield’s director of public health, said there could be a plethora of reasons for Arbourthorne’s high asthma rate, including air pollution, higher levels of smoking and poorer quality private rented housing, though he added that better diagnosis could also be a factor.

He claimed the data once again highlighted the health inequalities within Sheffield and said the best way to help those in poorer parts of the city was to improve primary care facilities there.

“The prevalence of pretty much any health condition is clearly linked to poverty and deprivation,” he said.

“These findings underscore the importance of having good access to primary care - not just GP surgeries but pharmacies and other neighbourhood services - in more deprived areas to help people improve their health.

“The inverse care law states that those who have the most health needs tend to get least, and that's true up and down the country.

“Even if you have equal primary care provision in areas like Arbourthorne and Ranmoor, you probably need to be providing more in places like Arbourthorne.”

Mr Fell added that Sheffield Council was already focusing on the most deprived neighbourhoods when it comes to helping people to stop smoking and preventing others from starting in the first place.

And he said the council was introducing a range of measures to tackle air pollution city-wide, including the creation of a clean air zone like that just approved in Leeds, which the most-polluting vehicles will be charged to enter.

Douglas Johnson, a Green Party councillor for the City ward, said the low rates of illness in parts of the city centre could be attributed to the predominantly young and active population living there.

“We need to be looking at what their health is like after they’ve been living in an area with high air pollution for a number of years,” he added.

He also said it was necessary to treat the figures with a degree of caution since they relate to GP practices where people are registered, not where they actually live.

Ben Miskell, a Labour councillor for the Park and Arbourthorne ward, said: “It’s a scandal that Arbourthorne has the fifth highest rate for asthma across England.

“There is a clear link between asthma and poverty and I represent an area in our city that feels left behind and abandoned by those who should be looking out for us.”

He claimed one factor could be former council homes which were purchased under the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme and allowed to fall into disrepair before being rented out by ‘rogue’ landlords.

“No child should be forced to live in some of the conditions that I’ve seen in my ward and we know that 85% of children living in damp houses suffer from breathing problems," he added.

He said creating secure jobs, reversing welfare cuts and doing more to educate young people about healthy living were crucial to improving people’s wellbeing in the city's poorest communities.

The statistics were compiled using data from the country’s GP practices for 2017/18, published by NHS Digital.

The House of Commons Library says its research highlights how people living in the most deprived areas are more likely to have a range of health conditions including serious mental illness, obesity, diabetes, and learning disabilities.

It also shows how some conditions are more common in the north of England than in other parts of the country.

All five regions with the highest rates of chronic lung condition, for example, are in the north, which also accounts for three of the five worst regions for prevalence of depression, serious mental illness and obesity, and four of the five worst regions for epilepsy.

The data, which is available to view online, is broken down by region, constituency and neighbourhood.

Below are the estimated rates of different health conditions within each of Sheffield’s parliamentary constituencies.


Sheffield Central: 5.2%

Sheffield Hallam: 5.9%

Sheffield Heeley: 7.0%

Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough: 6.6%

Sheffield South East: 6.8%

Penistone and Stocksbridge: 6.1%


Sheffield Central: 1.4%

Sheffield Hallam: 1.3%

Sheffield Heeley: 2.3%

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Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough: 2.5%

Sheffield South East: 2.7%

Penistone and Stocksbridge: 2.4%


Sheffield Central: 0.4%

Sheffield Hallam: 0.9%

Sheffield Heeley: 0.9%

Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough: 0.9%

Sheffield South East: 0.9%

Penistone and Stocksbridge: 0.9%


Sheffield Central: 7.7%

Sheffield Hallam: 7.4%

Sheffield Heeley: 10.6%

Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough: 12.2%

Sheffield South East: 13.3%

Penistone and Stocksbridge: 10.8%


Sheffield Central: 4.1%

Sheffield Hallam: 4.7%

Sheffield Heeley: 7.3%

Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough: 8.1%

Sheffield South East: 7.8%

Penistone and Stocksbridge: 7.0%


Sheffield Central: 8.0%

Sheffield Hallam: 11.8%

Sheffield Heeley: 14.8%

Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough: 13.1%

Sheffield South East: 15.6%

Penistone and Stocksbridge: 16.2%


Sheffield Central: 6.0%

Sheffield Hallam: 6.2%

Sheffield Heeley: 10.5%

Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough: 12.0%

Sheffield South East: 11.7%

Penistone and Stocksbridge: 11.8%