Stark statistics for health in Northumberland

Almost 350 women in Northumberland were still smoking when they gave birth in 2016/17.
Almost 350 women in Northumberland were still smoking when they gave birth in 2016/17.

Almost 350 women in Northumberland were still smoking when they gave birth in 2016/17 – representing 13 per cent of all deliveries.

This is one of the key statistics in the draft Northumberland Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy for 2018 to 2028, which was discussed by the county council’s health and wellbeing board at its meeting on Thursday.

While this rate of 12.9 per cent is among the lowest in the North East and is dropping, it is still much higher than the average for England.

And it is not the only stark figure included in the draft strategy, which aims to maximise wellbeing and health and reduce inequalities over the next decade.

People living in the least deprived areas of Northumberland can expect to spend 16.6 years longer living in good health than people living in the most deprived areas.

Almost 70 per cent of adults living in Northumberland are overweight or obese compared to 65 per cent in England and, in 2015/16, a third of children in Year 6 (age 10 and 11) were overweight or obese.

The rate of hospital admissions for alcohol-related conditions is higher in Northumberland than in England too.

There are four themes for this new 10-year strategy, which were previously agreed by the health and wellbeing board.

They are: Giving children and young people the best start in life; empowering people and communities; tackling some of the wider determinants of health; and adopting a whole-system approach to health and social care.

David Thompson, the chairman of Healthwatch Northumberland, said: “The aims of the strategy are very laudable, but it’s about the partners actually subscribing to this. To me, that’s a concern, how it’s going to translate into reality.”

The success of the strategy will be monitored by changes in life expectancy, healthy life expectancy and the gap between Northumberland’s least and most deprived communities.

The document is currently in draft form and there will be a consultation with the public, partners and stakeholders before it is signed off later in the year.

The health and wellbeing board is made up of councillors as well as representatives from organisations such as Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service