Report says Ipswich bad for death rates

DEATH rates in some deprived areas of Ipswich are among the worst in East Anglia, according to the latest Suffolk public health report.Although deaths among the under 75s have shown a marked improvement in recent years, Town and Bridge wards in Ipswich have bucked the trend, signalling an alarming disparity in health across the county.

DEATH rates in some areas of Ipswich are among the worst in East Anglia, according to the latest Suffolk public health report.

Although deaths among the under 75s have shown a marked improvement in recent years, Town and Bridge wards in Ipswich have bucked the trend, signalling an alarming disparity in health across the county.

Dr Brian Keeble, former director of public health for the now defunct Suffolk Health Authority, presented his final report at a meeting of the East Suffolk Community Health Council.

He claimed his findings showed a continuing need to focus resources and attention upon the poorer, urban areas of Suffolk once the new strategic health authority takes over full responsibility for Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Dr Keeble said Ipswich had one of the worst death rates across the three counties – matched only by Fenland, Norwich and Great Yarmouth.

The overall picture in Suffolk is optimistic. In the six years before 1994, there were nearly 15,000 deaths among people aged under 75 compared with only 14,000 from 1995-2000. Dr Keeble said the improvement was due to better healthcare for the "big killers" – strokes, heart disease and cancer.

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Districts across the county reflected the trend for the same two periods, ranging from an 18 per cent fall in Forest Heath to ten pc in Ipswich.

Death rates for Town and Bridge wards in Ipswich however, along with Kirkley and Harbour wards in Lowestoft, went against the grain with a marked rise in deaths among the under 75s – at least 50pc higher than the average for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire for the periods described.

Over the past decade (1990-1999), figures for Town and Bridge were up to 70pc higher than for the rest of Suffolk (69pc for Town, 43pc for Bridge).

The best Ipswich wards – with up to 9pc below average death rates – were Bealings, Nacton and Copdock.

Commuter-belt areas of East Suffolk such as Felixstowe East, Oulton Broad, Dodnash and Nacton boasted the best mortality rates in the county for 1990-1999.

Dr Keeble pointed to an "accelarating difference" between rural and urban areas as mortality rates in the countryside decline while figures are still climbing in urban areas. Sudbury recorded a 16pc higher death rate than the county average.

He said: "It's quite disgraceful that some communities have much worse health than others. It is mostly down to social and economic conditions."

He added: "The message is that these are real problems, please continue to think about them when Suffolk Health Authority is no longer here.

"Suffolk may appear to be an affluent county but it needs as much attention as anywhere else."

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