A new report reveals concerns over the health of children living in South Ribble.
The latest Health Profile for 2014 for the borough shows that three out of the five issues in the ‘children’s and young people’s health’ category are ‘significantly worse’ than the England average.
Women smoking while they are pregnant, the limited number of mums breast feeding, and alcohol-specific hospital stays for people aged under 18 are all causes for concern in the report.
South Ribble Council’s scrutiny committee set up a task group earlier in the year to recommend ways to reduce health inequality across the borough, particularly between the most deprived and the least deprived areas.
Committee chairman Coun Michael Titherington believes the council can do more to educate residents about health and wellbeing, and promote healthy lifestyles to help bridge the gap.
He said: “The profile does have some positive aspects, particularly in relation to homelessness, unemployment, drug misuse and early deaths from cancer, all of which are better than the national average, but major concerns remain.
“The statistics relating to child health are a real worry with the rates of childhood obesity and alcohol-related stays in hospital for under 18s quite alarming.
“Life expectancy in the more deprived areas remains years less than elsewhere in the borough and with it a poorer quality of life.
“The gap has actually widened for men and slightly reduced for women since the 2013 report, but clearly the gap is not closing quickly enough.
“The South Ribble scrutiny task group on the Review of Health Inequalities considered these factors when arriving at our recommendations earlier this year.
“The thrust of our report identified and emphasised the need for the council to work with partners in a concerted and co-ordinated way if the issues raised in the profile are to be effectively addressed.
“Among health service professionals, public health officials and politicians there is an acceptance that the ‘prevention is better than cure approach’ is definitely the right one.”