17 year gulf in healthy life expectancy for children in Havering
- Credit: PA ARCHIVE IMAGES
New statistics show the inequality in expectations for our children
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The healthy life expectancy of a child in Havering can vary by as much as 17 years depending on gender and postcode, new figures have revealed.
Our investigation, looking at the number of years people can expect to live in good health, has shown a lottery in life span across the borough.
A boy born in Cranham will live healthily for 17.1 years longer than one just 4.2 miles away in Harold Hill, government data has shown.
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Girls born in Upminster are estimated to stay healthy for 13.3 years longer than those six miles away in Harold Hill.
Cllr Keith Darvill, of Heaton ward in Harold Hill, said: “I’m really surprised and shocked at the 17-year difference and it relates to deprivation locally.
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“The reality is that, statistically, children in Harold Hill are going to have a less healthy life and a shorter life. Each time life expectancy figures come out it leads me to think we ought to be doing something about it, we’re not doing enough.”
Using data from the Office for National Statistics, we looked at how healthy life expectancy from 2009 to 2013 varied across 30 postcode areas in Havering.
It shows men in Cranham will live healthily for 71.4 years, the highest figure in the borough, and women in Upminster for 72.1 years. In Harold Hill the number falls to 54.3 years for men and 58.8 years for women, the lowest in Havering.
Cllr Darvill said changes in education and health policy had not helped to reduce the gulf in inequality between those in the most and least deprived areas.
“There’s still a huge amount that needs to be done in addressing deprivation,” he said.
“Children’s centres are being phased out and these were a way of trying to address some of the issues and trying to get things on a different trajectory.
“Also, smoking cessation policies and the fact they’re cutting back public health budgets now – all of these things, it’s deplorable really.”
The Harold Hill Foodbank offers support to people who find themselves facing hard times. It has seen a steep rise in the number of people given three days of emergency food rations over the past three years.
In 2012-13 the foodbank helped 961 people, this increased to 2,425 in 2013-14 with a similar number visiting in the past year.
Foodbank manager Mark Reeves said the differences in healthy life expectancy do not come as a surprise.
“It’s down to money, it’s not down to where you live,” he said.
“It’s not that the area is polluted and you’re breathing worse air, it’s due to lifestyle, fitness and medical care, it’s certainly financial. There are still a lot of people struggling.”
Cllr Clarence Barrett, for Cranham, said it was important to focus on the areas of greatest need.
“We’re all living longer and that’s a positive but it’s the quality of opportunity – not just the quality of life in later years but the quality of life in early years as well,” he said. “I’m glad that residents in Cranham are enjoying long life and healthy life. It’s a very residential area and it’s got good health links and that’s all positive.
“What’s a bit worrying is having this massive gap between Harold Hill and Cranham, which is not equitable at all. It’s clearly something we need to address but it’s not something we’re going to fix in five minutes.”