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Sheffield's Director of Public Health, Greg Fell
Sheffield's Director of Public Health, Greg Fell

Director of Public Health’s Report: Prevention is better than cure

13 September 2016

“Prevention is better than cure.”

That’s the main message from this year’s annual Public Health Report for Sheffield which documents the health of the city.

The report states there are around 900 preventable deaths in Sheffield each year, caused mainly by high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, smoking, alcohol and lack of physical activity. Life expectancy continues to rise in the city but health inequalities and how long people live in good health for are continuing issues.

Greg Fell, Sheffield’s Director of Public Health, said: “Life expectancy in Sheffield has been increasing and is 78 for men and 82 for women. But people will typically spend around 20 years of their lives in poor health, and there are big differences across the city. People living in affluent areas such as Dore and Totley tend not to develop long-term health problems until their early 70s, whereas people living in more deprived areas often experience them 20 years earlier in their 50s.

“This is a big issue for the city and we need to address it.”

This is the first annual report by Greg Fell, who became Sheffield’s Director for Public Health in March. It states more needs to be done to help those living in poorest health and tackle the conditions that affect this. This goes further than just health and social care services, and includes areas like education, early years care, housing, employment and the environment.

Greg Fell added: “There’s no silver bullet to tackle the inequalities that continue to blight the city and this will always be a problem as long as people don’t have enough money for things like heating and eating.

“Things become much more difficult with the continuing cuts and austerity. But we’re an ambitious city and services are working more closely than ever to make things happen.”

Sheffield City Council is helping people who cannot afford to heat their own homes and earlier this year won an additional £400,000 to support this by providing grants and adapting homes. It is also helping people into employment who are currently unemployed due to long-term health reasons, and is carrying out a pilot project with the DWP.

The authority is encouraging people to move more in the city to improve health. Earlier this month it helped to open a new £16million Graves Sports and Health Centre, and opened a new £7million leisure centre in High Green in July.

A Reyt Healthy Sheff social media campaign has been set up to provide people with information and signposting about health and wellbeing in Sheffield. Join the conversation @ReytHealthySheff on Twitter and Facebook.

Greg Fell is also taking part in a live Twitter conversation Tuesday 11 October from 1.30 – 2.00pm to answer any questions about the Public Health report or emerging strategy. Please use #AskGregFell to pose a question or follow the conversation.

Notes from the report:
Life expectancy in Sheffield has improved year on year for the last 16 years.

On average men can expect to live for 79.8 years (six months less than nationally). Women can expect to live for 82.5 years (seven months less than nationally).

Figures for healthy life expectancy (how long you can expect to live in good health) show that men in Sheffield are expected to have a healthy life up to 60.8 years, with women having a healthy life up to 60.3 years. This compares to the national average of 63.4 years for males and 64.0 for females.

The level of breastfeeding in Sheffield is among the best in the country at 80.1%, compared with a national average of 74.3%.

Rates of sexually transmitted infections and people killed or seriously injured on roads are also much lower than the national average.

Infant mortality (deaths in babies under one year) have also reduced significantly and are now similar to the England average (4.4 compared with 4.0 per 1000 live births).

And, although still higher than the national average, the teenage conception rate continues to reduce year on year and is now 27.9 per 1000 girls under 18 years old compared with the England average of 22.8. For Sheffield the number of teenage conceptions has more than halved over the last 10 years – 498 in 2004 compared with 253 in 2014.

 Sheffield’s annual public health report is available online at www.sheffield.gov.uk.