Hartlepool health chief lays down challenge to town to get healthier
Hartlepool's public health leader has issued a challenge to people to live healthier after new official figures showed the town has had the sharpest fall in life expectancy among men in the UK.
Dr Peter Brambleby, Interim Director of Public Health at Hartlepool Borough Council, encouraged pepel to take advantage of the help available to try to help people live longer.
Hartlepool is one of six areas across the UK where life expectancy at birth has significantly decreased.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says the average age at which men are dying fell by 1.5 years between 2012 to 2014 and 2015 to 2017, to 76.1 years.
Dr Brambleby said: “What we see in Hartlepool is part of a national trend in the slowing down, and now decline, in life expectancy.
“It has been receiving attention from Public Health England for the last year and more.
“Whatever has caused the drop in life expectancy, it is likely to be caused by events over the last several years since there have been no sudden epidemics or spikes in disease rates.”
The three biggest causes of death in Hartlepool are cancers, respiratory diseases and heart disease.
Dr Brambleby said: “All three are closely connected to lifestyle choices and as such are to some extent avoidable.”
He added: “While there is a challenge to the NHS and councils in doing what they can to prevent and treat disease, there is a legitimate challenge to individuals and communities to improve their own health, and that of their families and households.
“A great deal of advice and help is available at Hartlepool Borough Council’s three community hubs in the north, centre and south of the town and also via the Hartlepool Now website at www.hartlepoolnow.co.uk.”
Less frequent causes of death such as those related drugs, which are an issue for Hartlepool, can have a disproportionately large effect on the life expectancy calculations, added Dr Brambleby.
Health and wealth are also closely related he said.
Dr Branbelby added: “Life expectancy figures are an estimate based on where people were when they died, not where they lived, and given internal population movements – for example people healthy and wealthy enough to move to London - and inward migration from countries with lower life expectancy these might affect trends.”
He added authorities must also not loose sight of other conditions which affect people’s quality of life in the 20 years before they die and add to care costs.
In Hartlepool, they include mental health, mobility problems and hearing and sight problems.