Barnsley's poor can expect shorter lives, statistics show

Health gap: Council staff are working to close health inequalities in the town.
Health gap: Council staff are working to close health inequalities in the town.
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MEN living in Barnsley’s most deprived communities an expect a life expectancy of nine years less than those in the borough’s wealthiest suburbs, new figures released by the council show.

The differential for women is less, at 7.9 years, but still illustrates the impact of deprivation on health and the wide variations in expectations of health for those living just a few miles apart.

Health problems in the town are shown to begin in childhood, with 46 under 18s now expected to need a hospital stay in relation to alcohol each year, a figure higher than the national average, among an age group too young to legally buy booze.

That transfers into the adult population, where it is now expected more than 1,800 people will need ‘alcohol-related harm hospital stays’ each year, a figure which puts the town beyond the national average.

Numbers of self-harmers needing stays in hospital is now up to 600, pro-rata on population size a figure which goes beyond the national average.

Figures for excess weight, smoking and physical activity also reflect poorly against national figures, though there is a glimmer of good news with sexually transmitted disease rates and TB figures below the national average.

The health statistics echo those for deprivation, with Barnsley showing around a third of the population affected by the highest rates of deprivation, a figure substantially ahead of the England average.

At the opposite end of the scale, there are far fewer residents who are unaffected by deprivation are they are mainly in the west of the borough.

Figures in the report are from Public Health England.

Barnsley Council’s own public health staff have been working on projects to try to improve the situation, including work to create a ‘smoke free generation’ by the mid 2020s, by putting smoking out of sight for children.

In addition to helping smokers to quit, the council has introduced voluntary smoke free public areas in parks and playgrounds and is now rolling out a similar programme at the borough’s schools.

Work is also being done to control alcohol abuse, including test purchases at outlets and work to encourage retailers to avoid selling drink in individual units, which makes it more accessible to problem drinkers.