Over the last seventy years health and well being have improved for every section of society. In Dudley a wide range of agencies, strategies and plans are contributing to that improvement.
Life expectancy for Dudley residents has increased from 75.7 years for men and 80.3 years for women in 2003 to 80.3 years for men and 81.9 years for women by 2008.
Although the improvement in overall health is good news, the rate of progress has not been the same for all sections of society. There is a gap between those with the best health and those with the poorest and this gap is has only narrowed slightly over the last twenty years.
It is this gap between those with the best health who have longer life expectancy and those with the poorest who may die prematurely that give rise to ‘health inequalities’. Tackling health inequalities is not just about providing improved healthcare for those suffering from ill health, but also about tackling the causes of ill health in the first place.
Dudley’s strategy for 2005-2010 had three key priorities;
The notable successes have been in tobacco control with the introduction of the smoking ban in public places and the effectiveness of the local quit smoking services that support people to give up smoking.
Educational attainment has improved in the last five years with 76% of pupils achieving grades A to C in 2010 compared with 56% in 2006.
Improvements have been seen in housing, reducing fuel poverty and the regeneration of deprived neighbourhoods which have all contributed to the reduction of health inequalities.
The new strategy has been driven by the need to focus on the interventions that are known to have the biggest impact on reducing premature mortality and ill health associated with long term conditions. There are some very specific actions to reduce death from heart disease, cancers and respiratory diseases which are the biggest causes of premature mortality. There are also plans to tackle the contributors to ill health such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
The biggest change is the recognition that we need to address the fundamental causes of health inequalities and the strategic aims of the refreshed strategy are
Give every child the best start in life
Create fair employment and good work for all
Ensure a healthy standard of living for all
Create and develop healthy and sustainable places and communities
Strengthen the role and impact of ill health prevention
Such a broad ranging strategy can only be achieved by a whole range of partners working together in a planned and co-ordinated way. The new Health and Wellbeing Partnership Board will be the mechanism by which this strategy to reduce health inequalities will improve the health of everyone in Dudley and enable the gap between those with the poorest health outcomes and those with the best health outcomes to be narrowed.
For more information you a summary, individual chapters and the full version of the strategy can downloaded from the documents listed below. Alternatively please contact Public Health on 01384 321815