Telford & Wrekin Council's Health and Wellbeing Board will discuss approving its 2021-2023 Health Inequalities Plan this week, and public health consultant Helen Onions says disparities that were “already persistent” before the arrival of Covid-19.
A presentation for the board notes that, out of the 108 census areas in Telford and Wrekin, the number in England’s 10 per cent most deprived increased from 15 to 18 between 2015 and 2019, while the number in the least deprived also rose in that period, from six to eight.
The board, which consists of councillors, council and NHS managers and voluntary sector representatives, will meet on Thursday, September 30.
In her report, Ms Onions writes that: “Our Health and Wellbeing Strategy clearly commits to drive progress on tackling health inequalities.
“The strategy recognises that need to accelerate targeted collaborative local action to reduce increasing health inequalities.”
Ms Onions says it will do this by “tackling the wider determinants of health”, such as housing, employment and education, “giving every child the best start in life” and “improving the lives of the most vulnerable”, such as people with complex needs or those at risk of abuse, exploitation or neglect.
The presentation, due to be delivered to the board, says: “Sixteen per cent of the borough’s population – 28,900 people – live in areas ranked in the 10 per cent most deprived in England.
“The gap between the most and least deprived parts of the borough is increasing.”
The census, and other data-gathering exercises, divides the country into “output areas”, which typically have up to 200 household, and larger “lower-layer super output areas” [LSOAs] with at least 1,000, used for comparing and ranking areas.
The presentation says: “Fifteen of the borough’s 108 LSOAs were in the 10 per cent most deprived in England in 2015. By 2019 this had increased to 18.
“Six LSOAs were in the 10 per cent least deprived by 2015. By 2019 this had increased to eight.”
Pre-pandemic, Telford and Wrekin’s life expectancy was lower than the English average, it adds.
Between 2010 and 2019, the rate of increase had “stalled” in the borough, “only increasing by 0.8 years in men and 0.3 years in women”.
Across England, life expectancy at birth had risen 1.4 years and one year respectively, according to Office for National Statistics data.
“People in more deprived areas spend more of their shorter lives in ill health”, it says, adding that life expectancy is also “much poorer for people with mental health problems and life expectancy”.
Ms Onions writes: “While certain local health inequalities are already well known and programmes to tackle these can be developed quickly, an approach to systematically identify inequalities which are currently less clear is needed in order to implement plans, programmes and interventions to narrow the gap.
“The Health Inequalities Plan will, therefore, evolve and be refreshed on an annual basis with regular reporting to the board against specific outcomes and interventions.”