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LIFE EXPECTANCY: Map shows ten-year gap in Birmingham

LIFE EXPECTANCY: Map shows ten-year gap in Birmingham

Image: LDRS

The ten-year gap in life expectancy between those living in Birmingham’s richest and poorest areas has been described as “one of the starkest manifestations” of inequality.

Speaking at a health and social care overview and scrutiny committee, cabinet member Cllr John Cotton warned that health inequalities in the city were already here prior to Covid.

Papers to the committee cite Office for National Statistics figures showing there is a “ten-year difference in life expectancy between the least and most affluent areas of the city”.

A map previously made by the council shows the life expectancies of stops on the train and tram network in the city, with a ten-year gap between some areas for men and an eight-year gap for women.

Areas with lowest life expectancy include Bordesley and Duddeston (both 79 for women, 74 for men) as well as Handsworth, Winson Green and Soho (all 81, 74).

Areas with the highest life expectancy include Four Oaks (87, 84) Sutton Coldfield (85, 81) and Wylde Green and Chester Road (84, 81).

Another key challenge to the city identified in the report to councillors was that there is a “significantly higher likelihood of being admitted to a hospital, receiving mental health support, or dying prematurely” than elsewhere in the country.

It also states the infant mortality rate is “twice as high” as the England average. There were 3.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in England and Wales in 2019 according to the ONS.

Figures from 2014 to 2016 put Birmingham’s infant mortality rate (7.9 deaths per 1,000 live births) as lowest among all local authorities in the country.

Cabinet member for social inclusion, community safety and equalities John Cotton told the committee: “I think we all know, the inequities that affect health in our city are probably one of the starkest manifestations that we have of inequality in Birmingham.

“The fact we have got a ten-year gap in life expectancy between the richest and the poorest, the fact there is a greater probability to chronic disease, a greater likelihood of being admitted to hospital needing mental health support amongst certain groups, there’s a higher infant mortality rate.

“And these are clearly quite inextricably linked to the wider health and economic inequality that we see in the city.”

He said a map of health outcomes could be overlaid with maps of unemployment, low income, financial vulnerability and child poverty and that it is a “consistent pattern”.

He added: “Covid has served to just intensify and deepen those inequalities in the most brutal of fashions.

“Covid has demonstrated that thing academics talk about – the intersectionality of inequality which is basically saying there’s a combination effect of inequality around race, gender, disability, social class and so forth.”

A number of pieces of work are currently being undertaken into health inequalities in the city including the Creating a City without Inequality (CCwI) Forum – a sub-committee of the Birmingham Health and Wellbeing Board – and the Birmingham and Lewisham African and Caribbean Health Inequalities Review.

At the same meeting, councillors heard a presentation on the experiences of the Somali community in Birmingham given by independent organisation Healthwatch Birmingham.

Findings from interviews included that respondents experienced “dismissive attitudes” from health professionals and were made to feel like second class citizens.

Words: Mark Cardwell, Local Democracy Reporter


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