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Lambeth Council publishes Annual Public Health Report

Lambeth Council has published the Director of Public Health’s Annual Public Health Report 2013-14.

The annual report sets out the main health inequalities in Lambeth, what lies behind them and what is needed to reduce them.

The document, the first public health report that has been produced by the joint Lambeth and Southwark public health team, highlights the many public health successes in Lambeth, such as the improvement in life expectancy and reduction in infant mortality and in teenage pregnancy. But it also warns that there is still much work to do to reduce the health inequalities which are influenced by the borough’s social and economic conditions.

For example, although Lambeth residents live longer than they did 10 years ago and now live almost as long as the average for England, they also spend fewer years in good health than the English average. Healthy life expectancy for men in Lambeth is 2.7 years lower than in England, and 1.5 years lower for women.

Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of poor health and health inequalities in Lambeth. In Lambeth, 21.3% of people smoke, similar to the national and London averages. There is a strong link between tobacco use and those from lower socio-economic groups; as a result, smoking accounts for over half of the difference in risk of premature death between social classes. Death rates from tobacco are two to three times higher among disadvantaged social groups than among the better off.

The Public Health Report sets out 14 key recommendations for changes that would cut inequalities and improve the borough’s overall state of health. The list includes recommendations to tackle obesity and smoking rates, housing need and food poverty, and to encourage local employers to pay the London Living Wage. It also suggests that children should be helped to make healthy lifestyle choices.

Dr Ruth Wallis, Director of Public Health, said: “Southwark and Lambeth have quite similarly diverse populations and have seen great improvements in overall health over the last 50 years, but health inequalities still remain in both boroughs.

“While we can be proud of the many public health successes in Lambeth, such as the improvement in life expectancy and reduction in infant mortality and in teenage pregnancy, we still have considerable work to do to reduce health inequalities. Working alongside council colleagues and other partners to do this will require new ways of working, harnessing the unique potential of directly influencing many of the external factors which result in health inequalities.”

A Lambeth Council spokesman said: “Good physical and mental health helps us all to make the most of our lives. Our health and wellbeing is our most important asset. With three new leisure centres in Lambeth and fresh approaches to running our parks and libraries, the council and our communities are working together to keep Lambeth’s residents healthy.

“Key recommendations from this report reflect the widening role of public health. Achieving these goals requires an integrated approach to preventing poor health, making the most of the borough’s culture, leisure and sports assets to help people remain healthier for longer. We all have a role to play in improving our collective health and wellbeing and the challenge is to make the most of the assets we have to achieve this outcome.”

To view the Annual Public Health Report, please visit: http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/sites/default/files/ssh-lambeth-public-health-report-2014.pdf.

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