District among UK's unhealthiest places

By Ted JeoryFAMED for its sun, sand and leisurely pace of life, the district of Tendring has now been branded one of the unhealthiest areas of the country.

By Ted Jeory

FAMED for its sun, sand and leisurely pace of life, the district of Tendring has now been branded one of the unhealthiest areas of the country.

Research by a medical think-tank said residents covered by the Tendring Primary Care Trust had the biggest risk in England of suffering coronary heart disease.

The Dr Foster organisation added residents of the Tendring district - a favourite retirement location for pensioners - were the third most likely to be admitted to hospital in winter and the 10th most susceptible to contracting diabetes.

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The new health study - the first of its kind to analyse demographic breakdowns - highlighted pockets of acute deprivation and ageing populations, and pinpointed areas most in need of NHS resources.

Dr Foster said the risk of suffering coronary heart disease in the Tendring district - which includes Clacton, Harwich and Frinton - was more than twice as high as in Kensington and Chelsea, which has the lowest risk in England.

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Tendring ranked alongside other retirement hotspots such as Eastbourne, Torbay and Blackpool in the coronary risk and winter admission findings.

According to the 2001 census, almost one in three of the care trust's 140,000 residents are aged over 60 - and of Frinton's 4,100 residents, about 1,700 (42%) are over 65.

Dr Michael Gogarty, the primary care trust's director of public health, said he hoped the new study would help bring it extra funding.

“I haven't seen the Dr Foster methodology, but the findings reflect the multiplicative effect of age and deprivation which we have in Tendring,” he added.

“It seems to be a predictive study, not current, but I think it's something we can now use to take to the Government to show that we need more resources here.”

Dr Gogarty said a number of new initiatives to combat coronary heart diseases in deprived areas were already under way.

Terry Allen, leader of Tendring District Council, said: “People come here because they want to live out their lives.

“It's a lovely place and they live longer as a result. With an ageing population, we're bound to have more diseases and conditions. It's not as if there's some toxic gas in the air killing everyone off.”

Matt Tee, business development of Dr Foster, said the study represented the first application in the health field of an approach more commonly used to market goods and services by companies such as Sainsbury's.

The mapping technique breaks down social and demographic make-ups of each district before using that to calculate the prevalence of diseases or health conditions for each population group.

“It will allow health managers to look at where the real needs are,” said Mr Tee.


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