The healthy life expectancy for Hartlepool women is the second worst in the country.
Although, the life expectancy for women in the town is on the rise, the number of years of ill health is also increasing.
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, the town’s interim director of public health, said this issue is one which needs urgently addressing.
Hartlepool’s female life expectancy at birth has increased from 78.1 years in 2005-07 to 81.3 years in 2013-15, compared to the national average of 81.7 to 83.1.
But, the healthy life expectancy for women, that is the length of time living without serious health issues, has decreased from 59.2 years in 2009-11 to 55.2 years in 2013-15, compared to the national average which has remained static at 64.1 years.
Dr Edmondson-Jones said this puts the town as the second worst in the country for women with a healthy life expectancy.
This isn’t something that will change quickly, it is going to take a generation to change thatPaul Edmondson-Jones
He said: “It is sad to see that we are improving life expectancy for women, but they are not having better health.
“This isn’t something that will change quickly, it is going to take a generation to change that.”
Dr Edmondson-Jones was speaking about health inequalities at a meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee at Hartlepool Civic Centre.
He said deprivation and poor health go hand in hand and Hartlepool is the 18th most deprived area in the country.
But, added there are also health divides across the wards, with the life expectancy for men in the most deprived wards, such as Manor House and the Headland, being 11.9 years less than in the most affluent wards, such as Hart and Rural West.
For women the life expectancy gap between the poorest and richest in the town is 10.9 years.
The director said the town has a higher than average rate of diabetes, self harm and alcohol related health issues, but said reducing smoking was one of the top priotities.
He said: “Tackling smoking is the single most important thing we can do to improve the health of the town.”
Latest figures show that 19.6% of the population smokes, making it the highest in the North East.
Coun Ray Martin-Wells, who was chairing the meeting, said: “I live near a school and I still see a tremendous amount of young people smoking when they come out of school. It astounds me that in 2017 there are still young people starting to smoke.”
He said he would like to see more done to get the message across to school children about the dangers of smoking.