Health and Wellbeing in South Gloucestershire
The overarching aim of this strategy is to improve our population’s health and wellbeing and enable everyone to stay healthy for longer.
Our Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) tells us that overall health in South Gloucestershire is good and we are living longer, but not all of us are living in good health and there are significant inequalities in terms of educational achievement, isolation from transport, access to housing, income, crime and health in some communities.
Life expectancy in South Gloucestershire is higher than the national average and has been rising. Life expectancy at birth for a male born in South Gloucestershire in 2013-15 was 81.2 years, higher than the England average of 79.5 years. For females this was 84.7 years, 1.6 years higher than the England average.
Our population has grown by 10% over the past decade and is projected to rise by a further 20% by 2039. The biggest increases will be in the older age groups. This means that our population is growing, with a significant proportion of the population getting older and requiring more care. These predictions do not take into account the significant housing developments taking place, which will contribute to further population growth; at least 30,000 new homes are planned to be built in South Gloucestershire by 2036.
Mortality rates for most diseases, including cancer and heart disease, are below the national average and have fallen over the last decade. Cancer is the top cause of premature mortality in men and women. The condition that contributes most to inequalities in life expectancy is cancer in men and respiratory disease in women.
We know that as people live longer they are more likely to develop one or more long-term condition. Our data tell us our residents are likely to live for 15 years or more in less than good health and rates of morbidity increase with age. The leading causes of poor health in South Gloucestershire and nationally are low back and neck pain, skin diseases and mental ill health. Dementia is an increasingly important factor as we age.
Of particular concern for South Gloucestershire is that although life expectancy is increasing, healthy life expectancy (years spent in good health) appears to be falling. Healthy life expectancy (years spent in good health) at birth for males fell from 67.6 in 2009-11 to 66.0 in 2013-15, a drop of 1.6 years. This contrasts to an increase of 0.4 years in the whole of England. An even greater reduction was seen for South Gloucestershire women; between 2009-11 and 2013-15 healthy life expectancy for women fell by 4.1 years to 65.5 years. The England average for both time periods is the same. Data on the gap between our poorest and most affluent areas is limited but south west trends suggest the gap is similar to that for life expectancy.
The main causes of poor health and early death are often preventable. Lifestyle factors including smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and poor diet are linked to a growing number of diseases and conditions and are therefore a key focus for action.
There is strong evidence that the places, communities and homes within which we live shape our health and emotional wellbeing. The planned development of at least 30,000 new homes and associated infrastructure in South Gloucestershire therefore presents opportunities and challenges to ensure a design of environments that improve health and reduce inequalities, provide affordable housing, and meet the needs of local people.