Margate and Cliftonville worst hit in county for health inequalities leading to ‘avoidable deaths’

Athelstan Road is in one of the most affected wards

By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan

Health inequalities across the county leading to premature deaths have been described as ‘unfair’ and ‘avoidable’ by Kent County Council.

KCC’s health reform and public health committee was told earlier today (March 10) that the premature death rate of Kent residents was 116% higher in the county’s most deprived areas, compared to the least, from 2013 to 2017.

In Thanet, this has resulted in an additional 400 deaths a year, according to a KCC report. Margate and Cliftonville were found to have highest mortality rates in the county for those aged under 75 over the same four-year period.

Cllr Barry Lewis (Lab), who represents Margate at county level, said: “I’m coming up to 69. Should I be worried that the clock is ticking?”

KCC’s cabinet member for public health, Cllr Clair Bell (Con) has prioritised the recruitment of more health workers and said: “It is clear that something needs to be addressed and this will be high on the agenda for us in health.”

Their comments came during a public meeting at Maidstone County Hall, in Sessions House, earlier today and during a lengthy discussion around a KCC report on the  ‘unfair’ differences in the health status of Kent’s communities, ranging from Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells to Thanet and Swale.

A KCC public health report states: “Kent has a relatively affluent population, but there are pockets of real deprivation in the county.”

It adds: “Persistent health inequality in Kent is resulting in a poorer outlook and associated economic impact for Kent.

“The gap in life expectancy at birth between the most and least deprived in Kent is 6.5 years for males and 4.2 years for females.”

Causes of premature deaths include drinking alcohol, poor diet and a lack of exercise, with Public Health England estimating that around 18% of deaths in Kent were preventable between 2015 and 2017.

Based on data from the Office for National Statistics, this equates to around 2,600 deaths a year in Kent.

During the public meeting, Cllr Lewis also said that residents had told him about problems of animal infestation in Margate’s streets, notably mice.

He added: “Children are sharing their breakfast with rats. That’s the reality of Margate in the 21st century.”

KCC officers said that reducing health gaps between Kent’s most and least affluent communities would be prioritised through the newly formed Kent and Medway integrated care system, which launches next month.

In addition, the recent publication of the NHS England’s Long Term Plan has put reducing health inequalities at the heart of its delivery programme for the first time. This will include prevention strategies to cut down excessive alcohol consumption and bring down smoking prevalence.

13 Comments

  1. And our stroke unit is earmarked for closure, increasing the health inequality even further. Let us not forget that Kent County Council’s HOSC voted against referring back to the health secretary the decision to close it.

    • I could not agree more. How come those in charge cannot manage ” joined-up” thinking.

  2. A KCC public health report states: “Kent has a relatively affluent population, but there are pockets of real deprivation in the county.”
    These are not pockets of ‘real deprivation’, but instead pockets of ‘real affluence’ in a sea of deprivation.
    KCC then goes on to say:
    It adds: “Persistent health inequality in Kent is resulting in a poorer outlook and associated economic impact for Kent.
    Persistent health inequality is due to persistent economic equality through much of the UK. The ‘left behind areas’ have suffered greatly post the 2008 Banking crisis and badly structured and ill thought out ‘austerity’ policy making has added to that inequality.
    “The gap in life expectancy at birth between the most and least deprived in Kent is 6.5 years for males and 4.2 years for females.”
    In some areas the gap in life expectancy is far wider.Even within Districts there are wards where the life expectancy is 90+ and these are cheek by jowl next to others where the life expectancy is 73 or less. Nationally, life expectancy growth has either stalled or is in retreat. Bearing in mind that future generations may not have comfortable retirements with the benefits of final salary schemes and rising home ownership, it does not bode well.

    ‘Causes of premature deaths include drinking alcohol, poor diet and a lack of exercise, with Public Health England estimating that around 18% of deaths in Kent were preventable between 2015 and 2017’.
    Yes, this is the old ‘worthy and unworthy poor’ argument.Premature deaths are because the feckless poor live unworthy lives of drinking and debauchery. You would have seen this written in the 18th + 19th centuries and depicted in Charles Booth’s poverty maps of London in the late Victorian era.
    Nothing here about educational inequalities,in opportunities at primary, secondary and further education, or the precarious work opportunities where inequality means that work does not pay,or a punitive tax and benefit system that punishes the poor for minor transgressions through universal credit and other benefits, yet rewards tax avoidance on a grand scale, or poor housing policies where 60/70% of the take home pay of the poorest is spent on poorly maintained rack rent housing or, or, and I could go on.

    Bleating about health inequality, without deciding to tackle the problems with resolution and consistency over the next decades is just hot air and fine words. We will still be talking about this in 20 years, if we remain on the current trajectory.

    • The report seems not to make any moral judgments about the worthiness or otherwise of people who die prematurely. Nor should it. Apart from that, I agree with George Nokes. Education in the broad sense is needed.

  3. 400 deaths a year.
    “the premature death rate of Kent residents was 116% higher in the county’s most deprived areas”.
    Everyone in Thaet should be concerned about this. Everyone in Kent should be too.

  4. Then again, the government that has overseen this disaster was returned to power with an 80-seat majority and local voters , once again, elected two Tories to carry on as before.

    There seems to be a mismatch between the grim reality of life for millions of us , and the voting practices of millions more.
    There ARE consequences to voting. Politicians are not “all the same”.

    But I have decided to stop agreeing with someone who complains about the queues at the doctors, or the lack of affordable homes, or delays in operations, or the lack of enough buses, or the closure of libraries until I have asked which way they voted at the last election. If they voted for “more of the same”, my sympathy will be limited.

  5. Greedy KCC moving the best bits of QEQM to more affluent areas of the county.

    Time for change with East Kent becoming a UNITARY ÀUTHORITY and taking control of its own destiny.

    Come on London incomers start leading the depressed and needy locals in a revolt against the affluent over educated who have control at count hall level.

    We have great prospects locally but people convinced they don’t deserve better.

    I know the problems besetting Cliftonville – I live in Surrey Road.

  6. I fully support the idea of a east Kent unitary authority. Saves money, stops west Kent councillors riding rough shod over thanet and gets rid of Thanet council. Even if i lose my position, I will vote for more local democracy locally

    • Barry,
      I don’t know or care where you stand political but you are clearly pointing in the right direction.

      How do we get the ball rolling with this – let’s talk.

      Sadly I’m 78 and a bit past standing,that’s something for a younger generation but I was brought up in Ramsgate,fled the area at 18 when i recognised the was zero career oportunities and returned at 70 when i retired. Born with a wooden spoon and still know how to use it!

  7. We cannot carry on like this.
    I have an idea………….
    Nearly every school in Thanet is equipped with a professional kitchen. Each of these cost a lot of money. Each one is only used for a few hours on week days in term time. All we need is storage, teaching and demonstrating space ( about 4 large containers or a couple of portacabins) then Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet could use the school kitchen when the school wasn’t. We could build on the success story we have created over the past 3 years.
    *4000 healthier tastier meals at summer kitchen 2019,
    * 80 fruit and vegetable bags supplied each week to families for £2 delivered
    * truly affordable healthier food sold to families at pop up shops
    *local projects supplied with good food at no cost
    * fun family food education
    * feeding into the national new food strategy
    * developing a new model where locally made , tastier ready meals become the norm
    * We use compostable packaging too!
    * gleaning large volumes of locally farmed food and making this available for free
    * getting it right for families all summer at Summer Kitchen

    and all without our own premises.

    Just imagine what we could all do together if TDC got behind this unique offer. We could all come together to eat better and improve our own health .

    We need a Happy Healthy place where our children can learn to cook and where we can learn about healthy food so we can lead happier, healthier , longer, more enjoyable lives. A bit of investment now would save so much in the future.

  8. Summer kitchen which sharon and i co founded had no support from thanet council. It will continue this summer bigger and better thanks to the people of thanet wonderful support. Power of the people overcame the apathy of certain politicians.

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