Where you live affects how long you live

Where you live will affect how long you live
Where you live will affect how long you live

A shock report has laid bare the extent of health inequalities that exist between communities in the Falkirk district.

It’s said that where you stay can help shape your identity - but it can also affect how long you live.

The average life expectancy for a man living in Bainsford and Langlees is just 68 - but a man living less than three miles away in Larbert Village and Broomage can expect to live until at least 80.

And a women living in Nethermains can expect to live a full 10 years longer than a female from Camelon.

The disparities in life expectancy are just one example of how some communities enjoy better health on average than others.

The figures were revealed in a report to members of Falkirk Council’s environment and community safety committee, which was debated last week.

Several councillors noted that the gap in wellbeing had not appeared over night, but was the result of decades of diverging economic and social fortunes in certain areas.

Town hall veteran and Camelon representative Gerry Goldie said reading the report had left him feeling “weary”.

He added: “I represent an area that consistently comes up as one of the worst. And I see nothing in this report which suggests that things are improving. The figures get worse year by year.

“I don’t know if we - and by that I include the council and the health board - can solve this problem. But we have to recognise that something has to change.”

Perhaps most worryingly, the report anticipates that things could get worse before they get better.

It states: “Although the health and wellbeing of the people of Falkirk is improving, there are still significant inequalities in health across our area.

“To further compound existing health inequalities it is anticipated that recent major worldwide events, including the economic recession, increased unem­ploy­ment and reduced funding for the public sector may have a detrimental impact on people’s health, particularly for people already experiencing the worst effects of deprivation on health.”

In a bid to tackle the problem, an action group established by the Falkirk Community Health Partnership has drawn up a new framework designed to help bring about the required change.

Fiona Campbell, head of policy at Falkirk Council, said: “The Equally Well in Falkirk framework sets out how public sector organisations, working in partnership with local communities, can support local people to make better lifestyle choices and take more responsibility for their own health and well being.

“This will be underpinned by proactive early intervention which will help to tackle some of the long standing health inequalities which our area faces.

“This framework provides a more targeted approach and by working more closely with our partners and local communities we will be able develop new and better ways to deliver services which aim to improve the health of local people from across the area.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Forth Valley said that a key challenge was to address the complex root causes of existing inequalities, which included a broad range of issues such as unemployment, low income and lifestyle factors.

She added: “For this reason it is important to acknowledge that no single body or sector can address health inequalities on its own.

“As a result, Falkirk Community Health Partnership has been working closely with other partners including the local authority, voluntary sector and locals communities to produce Equally Well in Falkirk.

“This is a five year framework and action plan aimed at achieving the step change required to increase the rate of health improvement and reductions in health inequalities for people in Falkirk.”