July 25 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Those born in Suffolk can expect to live longer than people born in Norfolk, Essex and Hertfordshire, new figures show.
Men born in the county between 2010 and 2012 have a life expectancy of 80.6, up more than three years from a decade ago.
For women, life expectancy is 84.1, up from just below 82 a decade ago. Only Cambridgeshire has a higher life expectancy in the east of England, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
The figures were warmly received in Suffolk but prompted concerns about meeting the demands of an ageing population.
County councillor and chairman of Suffolk’s Health and Wellbeing Board Joanna Spicer said it was “good news”.
“We’ve got a good economy, relatively high level of employment and relatively low levels of deprivation, a lot of access to exercise such as walking in the fresh air; we have got a very good health service which is well served by our hospitals.”
She added: “However it’s very important that as well as living longer we are also able to lead healthier and happier lives and that means taking care of ourselves, eating carefully and in particular plenty of exercise.”
The figures also pointed to discrepancies in life expectancy within Suffolk, for both men and women the lowest life expectancy in the county was in areas which also see the highest level of deprivation, namely Ipswich and Waveney.
For men the highest life expectancy was in Babergh district, with those born there after 2010 expected to live more than two and a half years longer than those born in Ipswich.
Women born in Mid Suffolk in the same period can expect to live two and a half years longer than those born in Ipswich.
Healthwatch Suffolk said the diversity of the county presented challenges for public services “to meet the needs of our growing and ageing population”.
The health watchdog said it would be important to identify future priorities and provide “insight into local communities (to ensure) that local experiences are taken into account so that everyone has the opportunity for a high quality of life”.
A spokesman added: “We are also working very closely with the Clinical Commissioning Groups in Suffolk to design our future local health and care services to ensure that plans are developed with the needs of patients at their centre.”
Mrs Spicer said that one of the issues that needed to be considered as the population aged is housing.
“The one thing older people most of all want to do is stay living in their own homes,” she said. “An interesting statistic is that 80% of people over 80 actually want their own homes but a lot of them are living in housing which isn’t suitable.
“Some times they have got stairs or a lot of steps or aren’t near to shops and the most important thing is that people have a healthy and happy life.
“We want to encourage the private sector in particular to develop houses that are suitable for elderly people to buy not just for retirement but for old age. We have got very little of that in Suffolk.”