Sheffield residents promised 560,000 extra years of healthy living

A Sheffield city skyline showing city centre  
Picture by Gerard Binks

A Sheffield city skyline showing city centre Picture by Gerard Binks

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The council has outlined ambitious plans to provide Sheffield residents with more than half a million extra years of healthy living.

A draft public health strategy for the city has suggested new policies encouraging people to change some of their habits, which could increase each Sheffield resident’s ‘healthy life expectancy’ by one year over the next decade – equivalent to 560,000 extra years without illness or disability.

Greg Fell, director of public health at Sheffield Council, said the aim of the new strategy will be to allow people to ‘live longer and healthier lives’.

The report said the current average life expectancy for men in Sheffield is 78, and 82 for women – but both genders will typically spend the last 20 years of their lives in some form of poor health.

It said a ‘key challenge’ for city health bosses is that while average life expectancy is increasing in Sheffield, the number of years people live in good health is not.

The document highlighted big differences across the city - while those in parts of Dore, Totley, Ecclesall and Fulwood do not tend to develop long-term health problems until their early 70s, those in more deprived areas of Darnall, Arbourthorne, Burngreave and Firth Park often experience chronic illness as much as 20 to 25 years earlier, in their 50s.

Mr Fell said: “We will aim to increase healthy life expectancy by one year over the next 10 years, explicitly focused on improving fastest in those with lowest healthy life expectancy. If achieved this equates to 560,000 person years of illness and disability avoided. The benefits of this in terms of care costs avoided are obvious. It also equates to an impact on the productivity of the economy.”

The draft strategy, which is due to go before councillors next week, said a revised approach to tackling health inequality is needed, with primary care and GP services distributed in a way ‘to match needs and levels of disadvantage’.

Another area being looked at is reducing the number of people who smoke in the city from 17 per cent of the population to 10 per cent, halving the number of people classed as ‘inactive’ and reducing teenage pregnancies.

Mr Fell adds: “There isn’t a single big intervention that will resolve the challenges of the city. An approach based on a range of interventions will be needed.”

It said the council should ‘review and refresh strategies’ relating to food, tobacco, alcohol and exercise, developing a ‘Heart of Sheffield’ project to co-ordinate work.