Pledge to tackle 10-year gulf in life expectancy between poorest and richest parts of Suffolk

Suffolk County Council has pledged to tackle health inequalities. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk County Council has pledged to tackle health inequalities. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Vast disparities in life expectancy between the poorest and richest parts of Suffolk will be tackled as a priority by a councillors - after the Covid-19 pandemic further exposed inequalities.

Conservative cabinet member for public health at Suffolk County Council, James Reeder, said stories of health inequalities...

Conservative cabinet member for public health at Suffolk County Council, James Reeder, said stories of health inequalities had made for uncomfortable listening. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL - Credit: Suffolk County Council

This year’s annual Suffolk Public Health report, called A Time to Change: Working Towards Better Health for All in Suffolk, is focusing on health inequalities exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Data from between 2009 and 2013, the latest available, indicated the life expectancy difference when comparing the most and least affluent areas of the county was around 10 years.

MORE: Suffolk health services plan culture change to address health inequalitiesOther inequalities which impacted on health included peoples’ quality of housing, education, employment opportunities, income, and diet among many other factors.

The report pledged to “put health inequalities at the heart of what we do”, investigate ways of addressing the disparities, build community participation in finding solutions, strengthen how data is collected about health inequalities and regularly review progress.

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

Suffolk Public Health director Stuart Keeble said: “2020 has been a very different, and difficult year, for many of us.


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“We know that the coronavirus pandemic has affected some people and some communities more than others, worsening the inequalities that were already present in our county. That is why health inequalities is the theme of my report this year.

“Health inequalities have been present in our society for a long time and are contributed to by factors including quality of housing, education, access to a good jobs, life opportunities, as well as what we eat, drink and whether we smoke.

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“Covid-19 has brought many of these factors into sharp focus and this report sets out important recommendations for how we can address these issues collectively as no single organisation or individual can make a large difference on their own.”

Suffolk County Council's opposition Labour group spokeswoman for health, Helen Armitage, said the council needed to set...

Suffolk County Council's opposition Labour group spokeswoman for health, Helen Armitage, said the council needed to set the example. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

It follows a summit held during the summer with community and health leaders called What Are We Missing? in which people shared their experiences of health inequalities.

Suffolk County Council’s Conservative cabinet member for public health, James Reeder, said stories from that event made for uncomfortable listening, and had prompted action.

He added: “This report is a useful resource to enhance the change that has started in Suffolk following the first What Are We Missing? conversation.

“This report is everybody’s chance to use data, evidence-based practice, training and methodological ways of working to make changes that give as many people as possible the opportunity for better health,”

The council said it hoped organisations would be able to use the tools and resources in the report to address health inequalities in their own work.

Helen Armitage, health spokeswoman with the council’s opposition Labour group, said: “It must be part of our future policies and planning to re-engage with people feeling discrimination and inequity to show we value those individuals.

“It’s our responsibility to set an example to our residents.

“We must do more than offer equal opportunities, accepting that opportunities will never be equal for those living in deprivation.”

Visit the website here to read the report in full.

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