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Section 2: South Gloucestershire is a healthy place to live and work

South Gloucestershire is generally seen as a healthy place to live and work, with low levels of deprivation and good health and wellbeing outcomes for the local population.

Overall health: Key findings

“Overall health in South Gloucestershire is good and has been improving. Life expectancy is higher than the national average and has been rising. Mortality rates for most diseases, including cancer and heart disease, are below the national average and have fallen over the last decade.”

Source: JSNA Executive Summary (5)

Of the 31 outcome indicators included in the Local Health Profile, 18 (58%) show that South Gloucestershire is statistically significantly better than the national benchmark and nine (29%) are statistically similar. None of the local indicators included in the 2016 profile were statistically significantly worse than those provided for England.

The recently refreshed JSNA has shown that in recent years there have been improvements in a range of outcomes, including:

  • Infant mortality rates (an indicator for the general health of the population) have almost halved in the last decade
  • Year-on-year reduction in deaths from causes considered preventable, with rates falling by 25% over the last decade
  • Reduction over the last decade in the rate of premature deaths in those under the age of 75, including a 45% reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 16% reduction in cancer
  • Increase in life expectancy in for both males and female – with an increase of 2.5 years for both men and women over the last decade
  • A significant decline in many of the risk factors adversely affecting health including smoking, teenage conceptions, and violence and an increase in rates of breastfeeding

South Gloucestershire is, on the whole, a relatively affluent area with pockets of deprivation: only 16% of local authority areas in England are estimated to be more affluent than South Gloucestershire. Over two thirds (68%) of the local population live in the most affluent two fifths (40%) of neighbourhoods in the England, while nearly a third (30%) of residents live in the most affluent tenth (10%) of neighbourhoods in the country (5).

77% of respondents to the 2014 Viewpoint survey said they were satisfied with their local area as a place to live, including 32% who were very satisfied. Only 12% of respondents said they were dissatisfied with their local area (8).

The recently recalculated index of multiple deprivation (IMD) for 2015 shows that no South Gloucestershire residents live in neighbourhoods which are within the fifth of neighbourhoods considered to be the most deprived in England in term of health. Meanwhile more than half of residents live in the least deprived fifth of neighbourhoods (see the rightmost column in Figure 4 below).

Figure 1: Proportion of the local population living in each national quintile of deprivation

Graph showing the proportion of the local population living in each national quintile of deprivation

Taken as a whole, these figures suggest that South Gloucestershire is indeed a healthy place to live and work, particularly in comparison to the rest of England.  This is, however, not the full picture and the refreshed JSNA contains an in depth analysis of the unmet needs of the population, identifying how pockets of deprivation and other risk factors within the area can have a significant impact on health outcomes.

This then raises the question of how best to prioritise public health resources in an apparently healthy population.

Thornbury roundabout in full bloom

Photo by Chris Bahn