Revealed – The Suffolk neighbourhoods with the highest coronavirus death rates
PUBLISHED: 11:30 05 May 2020 | UPDATED: 09:00 06 May 2020
Nearly half of the deaths recorded in one of Suffolk’s most deprived neighbourhoods have been attributed to Covid-19 since the start of the outbreak, it has emerged.
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New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that the Westgate area of Ipswich had the highest percentage of deaths caused by coronavirus in the whole county between the start of March and mid-April.
The numbers are small, but out of the nine deaths recorded in Westgate during that period 44% (four) were attributed to Covid-19.
Incorporating places such as Handford Road, Maple Park and the lower part of Norwich Road, Westgate was rated among Suffolk’s most deprived areas last year.
The boss of independent watchdog Healthwatch Suffolk, Andy Yacoub, described the figures as “stark and deeply sobering” – adding that they “re-emphasise the breadth and types of health inequalities we have in the UK”.
“The disparity between the most deprived areas as compared to the least deprived, appear to reflect national data linked to deprivation and coastal areas – the latter connected with our older populations,” he said.
Westgate’s high death rate differs massively compared with areas such as Woodbridge, Eye and Brandon – where just 6% of deaths have been linked to the infection.
These neighbourhoods tended to have a higher number of deaths overall, with Woodbridge recording two Covid-19 related deaths out of 34, and Brandon attributing one death to coronavirus out of 17.
In Eye, Palgrave and Occold, one death out of 16 was linked to the infection.
Those areas were recently ranked among the least deprived, though some areas around seemingly affluent towns like Woodbridge were found to have hidden pockets of poverty.
Tim Holder, of the Suffolk Community Foundation which supports voluntary organisations across the county, said: “Statistics already show that areas of deprivation are more likely to see a higher proportion of people living in poorer housing, and also in larger households, which it also seems may accelerate the spread of the virus.
“It is therefore perhaps not a surprise to see that areas with higher deprivation (Ipswich), along with those with higher proportions of elderly residents (east Suffolk), are those that have experienced higher rates or mortality.”
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Other districts with a high percentage of coronavirus deaths included central Ipswich – with three in nine deaths attributed to the illness (33%) – as well as the Christchurch Park area of town, with five in 12 deaths (42%).
This neighbourhood stretches from the park to streets such as Colchester Road, Westerfield Road and out towards Broom Hill.
Outside Suffolk’s county town, 36% of deaths in Westerfield, Grundisburgh and Bredfield – four in 11 – were linked to the disease, compared with 30% in Stowupland, Mendlesham and Bacton (three in 10).
Areas with lower death rates tended to have a higher number of deaths overall, with the Woodbridge area recording two Covid-19 related deaths out of 34, and Brandon attributing one death to coronavirus out of 17.
Several neighbourhoods in Suffolk are yet to declare a Covid-19 death.
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These include Hadleigh, Leiston and Aldeburgh, and an area of north Suffolk which incorporates the village of Laxfield.
The map above breaks down the county into areas the ONS calls Middle Layer Super Output Areas (MSOA).
Each MSOA is home to around 7,000 people.
Nationally, higher death rates have been linked to both obesity and poverty.
The ONS numbers, which include all deaths registered, showed those living in the poorest parts of England and Wales died at twice the rate of those in the richest.
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Yet some of Suffolk’s poorest neighbourhoods have comparatively low death rates, meaning it is not as simple as poverty equalling deaths.
The Gipping and Chantry Park area of Ipswich is considered to be deprived but attributed 10% of all deaths to Covid-19.
However, more than one in four (29%) of deaths in the nearby district of Gainsborough, Greenwich and Orwell – also ranked poorly for its deprivation index – have been linked to the coronavirus since the outbreak.
Suffolk County Council’s public health director Stuart Keeble said Covid-19 deaths remain low in Suffolk, but added: “From the data, we can observe some indications of a link between more deprived areas of Suffolk and higher numbers of Covid-19 deaths, and also higher numbers of deaths in areas which have older populations.”
The authority is continuing to investigate these patterns, he said, which are similar to national trends.
Mr Holder, whose organisation spearheaded the Suffolk Coronavirus Community Fund, added: “All of the above clearly demonstrates the importance of the fund at this time as it seeks to get vital funding to Suffolk charities and community groups who are on the front line supporting vulnerable people across Suffolk – especially within the areas of known deprivation.”
Donate to the fund via the Suffolk Community Foundation website.
• Explore the maps above to see how your area compares
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