Health in Warwickshire comes under spotlight

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A frank report on the state of public health in

Warwickshire has today been revealed as its responsibility

becomes the county council’s for the first time in nearly

40 years.

Warwickshire’s Director of Public Health, Dr John Linnane,

has used this opportunity to reflect on some of the

achievements in public health over the past decades, as

well as exploring the challenges for improving health in

the future.

And while the health of people living in Warwickshire is

generally better than the England average, it also offers

up some fairly stark reading, such as:

· 1,600 children are estimated to have started smoking in

the last year.

· Almost one in five pregnant women are still smoking at

the time they give birth in hospital.

· Substantial inequalities in several indicators of health

persist between different areas within Warwickshire

Dr Linnane’s report ‘Learning from the Past, Planning for

the Future’ starts by focussing on improving the health of

the local population, at the very beginning of life, by

promoting the health of pregnant women and infants.

He asks: “How can we have one in five babies being born in

the county who have effectively already been smoking for

nine months at the time they take their first breath?”

At the other end of the spectrum the report looks at the

pressures Warwickshire will be facing with an ageing

population.

The report looks at a number of different themes.

“For example, one of our challenges is an ageing

population. This, of course, is something that should be

celebrated: it represents the success of increasing life

expectancy in the population, and longer lives for

individuals.”

Dr Linnane said there are also challenges in Warwickshire

in addressing the inequalities in health, recognising the

difference in life expectancy seen between different areas

and population groups within Warwickshire.

He said: “Life expectancy is 8.3 years lower for men and

7.6 years lower for women in the most deprived areas of

Warwickshire than in the least deprived areas.”

Other report findings include:

· Early death rates from heart disease and stroke have

fallen and are better than the England average.

· 16.2 per cent of Year 6 children are classified as obese,

which is lower than the England average.

· The estimated level of adult obesity is worse that the

England average.

· Levels of breast feeding initiation are worse than the

England average.

· MMR immunisation uptake rates are better than the England

average.

Cllr Bob Stevens, Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio

Holder for Health, said: “This annual report from Dr

Linnane is encouraging, and shows that things are heading

in the right direction in Warwickshire. Clearly there are

areas which require our attention and action - the ‘return’

of public health to local government after 39 years in the

NHS provides a renewed opportunity to address these issues.”

To see the report in full visit

http://publichealth.warwickshire.gov.uk/annual-report/