Plan's a matter of life or death

PUBLISHED: 12:40 25 August 2006 | UPDATED: 22:10 28 May 2010

KEY factors have been identified in Fenland which affect life expectancy - and health chiefs are determined current trends should be reversed. They have identified three main areas where life expectancy has been affected: 1 - A high mortality rate among 1

KEY factors have been identified in Fenland which affect life expectancy - and health chiefs are determined current trends should be reversed.

They have identified three main areas where life expectancy has been affected:

1 - A high mortality rate among 15-24 year old males, particularly from road accidents. The higher-than-average death rates among this age group reduced male life expectancy in Fenland by an additional 0.6 years.

2 - Higher than average mortality rates among people aged 75-84, which accounted for an additional 0.3 years reduction in life expectancy. The trust believes this can be explained partly by older people with serious health problems coming into the area to live in nursing and residential homes.

3 - Mortality rates from circulatory disease and cancer which, although not significantly different from the national average, are high for Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. These are likely to reflect lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet and physical activity as well as access to specialist treatment.

The Fenland Spearhead Action Plan says it may not be possible to address higher death rates related to people with serious health problems coming from elsewhere into local nursing homes.

But it does believe it can help reduce road deaths among young males, reduce premature deaths from circulatory disease and cancer, and tackle health inequalities.

Dr Liz Robin, the director of public health, said "synthetic estimates" have been drawn up to show the lifestyle issues affecting people in Fenland.

"Amongst local authorities in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, Fenland has the second highest proportion of smokers (27 per cent), the highest proportion of obese adults (29 per cent) and the lowest proportion of adults eating fruit and vegetables per day (19 per cent)" she said.

The £500,000 lottery funding, if secured, will:

- Increase the number of community volunteers leading on healthy lifestyle;

- Increase physical activity and support healthy lifestyles;

- Reduce social exclusion by improving access to services and awareness of services that support healthy lifestyles;

- Enable older people to lead active lives and live independently in their own homes;

- Improve the emotional and physical health of children and young people.

"We don't know yet if we will get the bid, so I wouldn't want to raise expectations too much," said Dr Robin.

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