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Greg Fell, Director of Public Health
Greg Fell, Director of Public Health

Director of Public Health sets out priorities amongst national health decline

14 September 2017

The Director of Public Health in Sheffield has set out his recommendations for the year in his second annual report.

Greg Fell’s recommendations come at a time when life expectancy improvements have halted nationally, with similar trends being seen in how long people can expect to live in good health – a picture which is mirrored in Sheffield.

Mr Fell said: “We’ve seen over the last year or so that the historic improvements in life expectancy have ground to a halt. That’s been happening nationally and it’s happening in Sheffield as well.

“There are some signs it’s getting worse in some parts of the country. We’ve not seen this here in Sheffield yet but we may well do. And what’s worrying, is that this is not evenly spread – people who are vulnerable and less affluent are having a worse deal.

“Scientific evidence shows that austerity is a factor in this and our response needs to look at what we’re doing as a city around tackling poverty. There’s no easy answer to this but it’s something that affects the whole of society, therefore the whole society needs to be involved in the solution.”

The Director of Public Health’s report makes three main recommendations to be carried out over the next year. These are:

1. Further research into how negative childhood experiences affect people long term. Fell’s report describes good work already taking place in Sheffield to support children from birth. But he states Sheffield City Council and the Clinical Commissioning Group should ask Public Health England to coordinate further research into how people are affected long-term, to help demonstrate the value of providing more support.

2. A review of the city’s approach to mental health and wellbeing. Fell’s report supports the national view that “there is no health without mental health”. He calls for a review of activity which helps people stay mentally well in Sheffield, to make sure efforts focus on preventing people from getting ill, as well as treating them when they are.

3. Further improvements around people with multiple illnesses. Fell states that Sheffield performs well when treating people with single illnesses but “the world doesn’t work that way.” He states people more commonly experience a number of different conditions and that, as a city, “we need to up our game on prevention.”

Mr Fell added: “The purpose of this report is to galvanise efforts across the city. I’ve purposely focussed my recommendations on what will have the greatest impact. Good work is already taking place in these areas but we need to continue to be relentless to help those most in need.”

The latest figures show that life expectancy for men in Sheffield decreased from 78.8 years in 2012-14 to 78.7 years in 2013-15. For women, life expectancy remained the same at 82.5 years in both 2012-14 and 2013-15.

The average healthy life expectancy – how long people can expect to be in good health for – also decreased. For women, this was from 61.5 years in 2009-11 to 59.9 years in 2013-15. The decrease in men’s healthy life expectancy has been less sharp over the same period, reducing from 59.3 years to 59 years.

The Director of Public Health’s annual report is being discussed by Sheffield City Council’s cabinet on Wednesday, 20 September before going to its Full Council meeting on 6 October at 5pm.

People are invited to ask Greg Fell questions about the report in a twitter hour on Thursday 5 October, from 4pm – 5pm. If you wish to ask a question please tag @Felly500 and @ReytHealthyShef in your tweet.