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Reaction to news that North Ayrshire has worst healthy life expectancy in Scotland

Reaction to news that North Ayrshire has worst healthy life expectancy in Scotland

The figure, released last week by the Office for National Statistics, now stands at just 55.7 years.

Healthy life expectancy is described as “an estimate of lifetime spent in ‘very good’ or ‘good’ health, based on how individuals perceive their general health”.

The next worst after North Ayrshire was North Lanarkshire, at 56.05 years, then Glasgow at 56.7

Neighbouring East Ayrshire recorded the sixth worst healthy life expectancy figure at just 58.15 years.

South Ayrshire was just inside the top half, at 62.75 years, while the best in Scotland was Orkney at 74.35.

A spokesperson for NHS Ayrshire and Arran said: “Healthy life expectancy in Ayrshire is lower than other areas across the country and reflects the health and social inequalities that are unfortunately prevalent in post-industrial areas of Scotland.”

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “Many factors will affect the health of residents, such as housing, financial security, employment, education and the environment.

“The ONS figures published are a stark reminder of the challenges for our communities in North Ayrshire.

“Reducing health inequalities in North Ayrshire is a priority for all community planning partners (CPP), with the ambition and actions to improve this outlined in the CPP’s local outcomes improvement plan, the health and social care partnership’s strategic plan and the North Ayrshire Council Plan.

“These plans are developed with the needs of our local population taken into account and the particular challenges we face.”

Cunninghame South MSP Ruth Maguire said: “Living long, healthy lives is something I would wish for all my constituents.

“The Office for National Statistics report illustrates that far too many of our citizens here in North Ayrshire experience ill health for longer at the end of their lives.

“Analysis of the figures showed that this situation is not inevitable and people can have a huge impact on their own health and wellbeing by eating well, quitting smoking, exercising and reducing stress. 

“Undoubtedly, the pandemic, austerity, the cost crisis and the unequal way these things impact on individuals affect how able people are to do just that.

“That is why whilst targeted public health measures are important in tackling poverty and inequality, with actions like the Scottish Child Payment and delivering affordable housing are actually key to improving healthy life expectancy.”    

Cunninghame North SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said: “This the brutal reality of Westminster control.

“The figures for North Ayrshire reveal deep-seated poverty, exacerbated by welfare cuts, with 79 per cent of social security expenditure reserved to Westminster.

“Whilst the UK is, according to the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, shamefully making poverty ‘a political choice,’ and adopting a ‘punitive, mean spirited and often callous’ approach to welfare.

“Researchers from the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, and others, have attributed the national slump in healthy life expectancy figures to UK Government austerity policies.

“And Ayrshire is still recovering from the decade of Labour government under Tony Blair, from 1997 to 2007, when Ayrshire lost 53 per cent of its manufacturing employment – 14,500 jobs.

“Scotland is a wealthy country. We have the potential to look after our own citizens.

“Measures like the Scottish Child Payment, which provides £26.70 a week to the parents of 329,000 Scottish children – and for which there is no UK equivalent – have helped lift 100,000 children out of poverty.

“However, without the full powers of independence to boost growth, tackle poverty and deliver equality, we will always have one hand tied-behind our back.”

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