New plans to give Sheffielders 560,000 extra years of healthy living

Plans are in place to tackle the health divide across the city
Plans are in place to tackle the health divide across the city

Sheffield medical bosses have set out ambitious plans to provide city residents with over half-a-million extra years of healthy living.

A draft public health strategy for the city has suggested new policies that encourage people to change some of their habits could increase each Sheffielder’s healthy life expectancy by one year over the next decade - equivalent to 560,000 combined years of extra time without illness or disability.

Greg Fell, director of public health for 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.

It highlighted the massive differences in healthy living standards 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 parts of Darnall, Arbourthorne, Burngreave and Firth Park often experience the same issues 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 across the city’.

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

The report said: “There is a need for both policy level interventions and services to support individuals.

“Community engagement and outreach are often a vital component of behaviour change interventions and support from peers who share similar life experiences can be a powerful tool for improving and maintaining health.

“Behaviours are determined by a number of factors, particularly commercial, social and economic influences.”

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 on such issues.