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Suffolk: County’s health blips despite postive picture

07:00 26 April 2014

Suffolk and north Essex are healthy areas.

Suffolk and north Essex are healthy areas.

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Parts of Mid Suffolk are the heart disease capital of the region according to new figures from a government-backed study.

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But the county as a whole remains one of the healthiest places in the country – and an Ipswich Council ward that is normally near the bottom of the county’s health league table is rated one of the best places in Suffolk.

The figures were produced by the Small Area Health Statistics Unit at Imperial College London, which was set up by the government in the 1980s to investigate claims of leukaemia clusters across the country.

It shows that for most cancers and heart disease the incidence in most of Suffolk and north Essex is below the national average.

However for heart disease there is a cluster of villages in Mid Suffolk, including Onehouse, Badwell Ash, and Haughley where the incidence is above the national average. In Woolpit it is above average for women and below average for men.

Local councillors differed on the reasons for the variation – Jane Storey whose division includes Badwell Ash and Woolpit felt the existence of care homes in the area could affect the figures. Woolpit also has a health centre.

However Andrew Stringer felt the lack of safe walking and cycling routes could be significant: “If you want to walk or cycle in Haughley you take your life in your hands,” he said.

Suffolk and north Essex has relatively high rates of skin cancer and mesothelioma, but for bladder cancer and liver cancer the incidence is low in comparison with the rest of the country.

The area has low general incidence of lung cancer for both men and women. However Forest Heath district has above average lung cancer rates for both genders.

Whitton ward in Ipswich, which is normally near the bottom of the Suffolk league table for life expectancy, is one of the top 33 wards in the country for overall health and environmental conditions.

A spokeswoman for the county council said this was because of different weighting given to different factors in the new report.

Whitton is one of three wards in Suffolk included in the top rank of the national list – alongside Saxmundham and Felixstowe North in Suffolk Coastal.

Frinton, Hamford, Harwich East and Homelands wards in Tendring district of north Essex join them on the list of good places to live.

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