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Revealed: The life expectancy divide between Norwich’s most prosperous and deprived areas

PUBLISHED: 17:47 19 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:53 19 October 2017

Step out and enjoy some healthy walks. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Step out and enjoy some healthy walks. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2009

A life-expectancy divide in Norwich can today be revealed - with people in some areas living for on average four more years than those in other parts of the city.

File photo of a GP checking a patient's blood pressure. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire File photo of a GP checking a patient's blood pressure. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

The line is drawn between the most prosperous and the most deprived areas, according to a new report - suggesting where you live could be a key factor in the age at which you die.

The report shows that men living in areas such as Bowthorpe or Thorpe Hamlet can live for up to five years less - mainly because they suffer to a larger extent from cancer, mental health issues, and circulatory issues amongst other things.

There is also a clear variance between genders as well as areas - as women living in Crome ward are expected to reach at least 82 years old, but men in the same area tend to die before they are 77.

The data was revealed as Norwich city councillors looked to address the disparity, which a report prepared for councillors said had a “huge impact, because [it results] in people who are worst off experiencing poorer health and shorter lives”.

Photo: PA Photo: PA

Particular attention was paid to those sleeping rough, and people living with disabilities.

But data showed:

• 5.6pc of people living in Norwich described their general health as bad or very bad - around 7,778 people.

• 8.6pc of people (around 11,945 people) in the city had a long-term health problem or disability which limited their day-to-day life.

• Norwich men lived longer in Eaton and Nelson ward, while women lived longer in Eaton and Crome.

• Bowthorpe, Mancroft, Crome and Thrope Hamlet had the lowest life expectancy for men. For women, it was Bowthorpe, Sewell and Thorpe Hamlet.

• Overall babies born in deprived areas of Norwich live to an age below the England average but those born in prosperous areas live longer than the average.

Derek Player, general manager at charity St Martin’s Housing Trust, told the City Council’s scrutiny committee how these differences affected homeless and disabled people.

He said the City Reach primary health team, which provides GP services to groups such as the homeless, sex workers, travellers and others, tried to address the disadvantages.

But there was a “system blockage” which stopped people progressing past their services. Mr Player said: “St Martin’s has a record number of revolving door clients who progress along the recovery pathway is either halted by no appropriate service being available for them, or because other agencies - having had their budgets reduced by Norfolk County Council - refuse to take nominated ‘high risk’ clients.

“City Reach is also retaining more patients than they would wish because GP surgeries will often not register them or they are not equipped to deal with them. Consequently their list keeps growing and the practice cannot offer the intensity of service to individuals the health practitioners would wish.”

He added there were an increasing number of single, homeless adults in the city - many of whom have mental and physical health needs, as well as problems with substance abuse.

Former women's England cricketer Eileen Ash, now 100, she attends a Yoga class at the Dussindale centre on Tuesdays and drives there in her yellow Mini.
Photo by Simon Finlay. Former women's England cricketer Eileen Ash, now 100, she attends a Yoga class at the Dussindale centre on Tuesdays and drives there in her yellow Mini. Photo by Simon Finlay.

But Mr Parker said they were finding it more and more difficult to access the county’s drug and alcohol service, or to refer clients to the region’s mental health trust.

Mary Fisher, from Making It Real Norfolk, suggested a wide range of improvements which would improve health outcomes for disabled people.

One of these was the provision of appropriate housing. One person who used their services said: “My flat [is] no longer suitable as I use a wheelchair and have seven steps outside so I am totally housebound. I now qualify for a two-bedroom bungalow. They seem very thin on the ground. The council still send me accommodation on the first floor which is totally useless.”

A partnership between Norwich City Council, Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group, Broadland District Council and Public Health Norfolk is aiming to tackle the differences. Known as Healthy Norwich, in 2017/18 the group aims to look at three key themes:

• Promoting healthy weight and lifestyle - through improving awareness of the benefits on an active lifestyle, and access to activities in the city.

• Smoking cessation and prevention

• Affordable warmth - reducing fuel poverty and delivering a pilot looking at reducing winter deaths.

But they will also look to improve mental wellbeing and look to boost cancer screening and diagnosis rates.

For 105-year-old Eileen Ash, yoga, playing bowls, and an apple every day has been the key to her long life.

Mrs Ash, who lives in the Thorpe Hamlet ward has defied the statistics which show the area to have one of the worst life expectancies in the city, with the average age people live to being less than 82.

Mrs Ash recently featured in an ITV show as one of just eight people in the UK aged 105 years or over who still drives.

She spent 11 years working for MI6 before playing for the England Ladies cricket team from 1938 to 1949.

Mrs Ash said: “Age is just a number. I don’t feel any different from the 90s.

“I put it down to yoga, you get out and you do these exercises and they are good for you.

“They keep my muscles going.

“I eat reasonably well and sensibly, and I always have an apple a day.”

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