Seven-year gap in life expectancy

PUBLISHED: 11:42 16 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:39 06 May 2010

SHOCKING inequalities in life expectancy between different wards in the St Albans district just a few miles apart have been highlighted by a new report. A gap of more than seven years in average life spans exists between the two areas listed at the top a

Life expectancy by ward

SHOCKING inequalities in life expectancy between different wards in the St Albans district just a few miles apart have been highlighted by a new report.

A gap of more than seven years in average life spans exists between the two areas listed at the top and bottom of a table compiled by the district council based on life expectancy figures from the local Primary Care Trust (PCT). In Harpenden South, people live an average of just over 84 years but in the Batchwood Ward in St Albans the average life expectancy falls just below 77 years.

Also at the bottom end of the table were St Peters Ward with an average life expectancy of just under 78 years and Sopwell Ward with 77.6 years.

Marshalswick South was found to have the second highest life span, with 84 years, although the result included some data from Clarence Ward.

Four of the results listed in the table incorporate figures from small sections of neighbouring wards because the PCT define some areas slightly differently in order to standardise population numbers throughout the district.

Certain factors were shown to have a significant relationship with life expectancy. These were crime levels, deprivation, obesity and the number of smokers in an area.

Although London Colney is number 13 down the list of life expectancy out of the 20 wards, it was found to have the highest obesity levels and the most smokers in the district.

The percentage of home ownership was also revealed as one of the most significant factors in life expectancy - the bottom three wards all had the lowest levels of home owners in the district, ranging between 60 and 66 per cent.

However, St Stephen, which has the highest home ownership rate at just over 91 per cent, was ranked as number 15 down the life expectancy table.

The ward also bucked the trend in other categories as it has relatively low obesity levels, low smoking levels, low crime and low deprivation.

There are also significant differences between the life expectancy of men and women, with Ashley Ward seeing a gap of nearly six years between the two.

The average life expectancy for the entire district was found to be 81 years, with the average for women being 83 years and the average for men being 79 years.

Batchwood District Councillor and Labour's prospective Parliamentary candidate for St Albans, Roma Mills, said the findings were unacceptable and down to social and economic inequalities.

She pointed out that there are some affluent areas within the Batchwood Ward and said it meant that the areas where people were most disadvantaged were even more localised.

She said: "I have been raising the issue of social and health inequality repeatedly over the years in council but there is little action or response from the administration. Batchwood remains targeted for the development of more social housing - with available garage sites at New Greens in particular - which just means locating more needy people in the area."

Cllr Mills believes that all levels of government are responsible for the inequalities and that action needs to be taken, whether it is providing education throughout life, safer roads or leisure facilities for people to exercise.

She added: "It is just not acceptable. I think at some stage we need to stop talking about how awful the inequalities are and start addressing them in a robust manner.

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