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LET GLASGOW FLOURISH

April 19, 2006 11:23 AM

The Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) has today published the most comprehensive description of health and its determinants ever created for Glasgow and West Central Scotland.The report, titled ‘Let Glasgow Flourish', has been produced by a team led by Professor Phil Hanlon of the University of Glasgow.The report demonstrates that whilst in Glasgow disadvantage clearly matters in terms of health outcomes, the analysis of what is getting better in Glasgow is illuminating and challenges a number of stereotypes.

The report brings together a wealth of data on a vast range of topics including: a historical perspective on Glasgow's population; life expectancy; economic factors; social and physical environment; behaviour; health and function; illness and disease; pregnancy, childbirth and early years; children and adolescents; and past and future trends.

Sir John Arbuthnott, Chair of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, warmly welcomed the publication of the report.He said: "This comprehensive new report provides an extremely helpful description of health and wellbeing in the Glasgow of today.The changes that have taken place in the city in recent decades are quite remarkable.Yet the intractable problem of health inequalities remains.

"Our collective priority now must be to recognize and address the complexity of the challenge of improving the population's health, and I am committed to working with the city leaders in rising to that challenge. The more integrated approach that has been put in place in Glasgow, for example through our Community Health and Social Care Partnerships, means that we now have the tools and common purpose required to bring about health improvements in line with the physical and economic improvements now evident in Glasgow.

"In moving forwards I will be emphasizing the need to maintain community-based regeneration as a corner-stone of our approach, and within that to increasingly recognise the key role of social, cultural and aspirational factors.Crucially, unless the improvements in health of our least affluent communities become greater than those of our most affluent communities, we will continue to see the large inequalities that are present today.

"We also must take very seriously the frightening trends in obesity and alcohol-related harm.To turn these around will require strong national leadership as well as local action.That leadership needs to be demonstrated urgently."

Dr Carol Tannahill, Director of the Glasgow Centre for Population Health said:"Although Glasgow as a city has changed physically, socially and economically over recent decades, its legacy of poor health remains.Health inequalities are stark and are increasing, on a whole range of dimensions.Growing health problems such as obesity and alcohol-related harm are not so clearly linked to poverty but are problems that affect the population as a whole.As we move forward we will therefore need to combine approaches targeting our least healthy communities with others which support changes in behaviours across the city as a whole."

Prof Phil Hanlon added: "It is evident that we will need to widen the range of approaches being implemented to improve health.There will be no simple solutions to the problems faced by Glasgow.Certainly, there will be no single initiative that will turn round such a complex set of problems with such deep roots in history.One of the key messages of this report is that for health to improve a large number of the determinants of health have to be changed.Our response to Glasgow's health problems needs to take account of all the data in this report and the many insights yielded."

Cllr Steven Purcell, Leader of Glasgow City Council said: "Glasgow is working with all its partner agencies to improve the health and wellbeing of our population.  We are enjoying a time of unprecedented economic success, with more jobs in the city than ever before.  However, we need a fit and active workforce if this prosperity is to continue.  That means changing our attitudes to health, from cradle to grave and promoting a healthy Glasgow as a prosperous one, fit for all."

The Centre will follow the report with a discussion paper to stimulate fresh thinking on the issues.Anyone wishing to contribute to the debate can do so online at www.gcph.co.uk/involved.htm, by email to [email protected] or submit comments by post to GCPH, Level 6, 39 St Vincent Place, Glasgow G1 2ER.

Notes to editors

1. The Glasgow Centre for Population Health (www.gcph.co.uk) is a research and development organisation set up in 2004 as part of the Scottish Executive's programme to step up health improvement in Scotland.The Centre is a partnership between NHS Greater Glasgow, Glasgow City Council and the University of Glasgow, supported by the Scottish Executive and is led by Dr Carol Tannahill, Director.

2. The ‘Let Glasgow Flourish' report was produced by the Centre's observatory group – a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary group sharing perspectives to generate new insights into Glasgow's health.The group is led by Professor Phil Hanlon, Professor of Public Health, University of Glasgow.Along with Professor Hanlon, the authors of the report are David Walsh and Bruce Whyte, both Public Health Information Managers at NHS Health Scotland.

3. Highlights of the report include:

Inequalities in health have been present throughout the last 150 years and many of the healthiest and least healthy communities within the city remain unchanged from a hundred years ago.

Overall life expectancy for both men and women has doubled over the last 100 years although around one fifth of the population die before their 65th birthday.

Glasgow's death rate now exceeds the birth rate and without significant change in these rates the city's population is likely to drop further.

Greater Glasgow not only has the communities with the highest mortality rates in Scotland, but also those with the lowest mortality.

The gap in life expectancy between the least and most affluent parts of Glasgow has widened noticeably over the last 20 years.

The gap in pay between the highest and the lowest paid is widening nationally and in Glasgow.

The proportion of Glasgow's population in the top two social classes has more than doubled since 1981 so that in 2001 four out of ten adults in Glasgow were classified as either Social Class I or II.

It is predicted that single adult households will account for 49% of all households in Glasgow by 2016.

There are now more women than men in employment in Glasgow and the number of Glasgow residents in employment has grown in recent years.

Two-thirds of Glasgow residents feel that neighbours look out for each other and that people can be trusted in their local area.

The last 20 years have seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of owner occupiers and the ten small areas with the lowest rates of owner-occupancy are all in Glasgow with eight out of ten areas with the highest rates also located within Glasgow communities.

Simple projections of alcohol related deaths based on recent trends suggest that the number of alcohol related deaths could double in the next twenty years.

A fifth of males and almost a quarter of females in Greater Glasgow are now estimated to be obese.

Smoking rates in Glasgow have fallen considerably in the last thirty years.

Some communities in and around Glasgow are the healthiest in Scotland.

4. The full report is available for download at http://www.gcph.co.uk/strength1.htm.

5. To speak with Professor Phil Hanlon or Dr Carol Tannahill, contact Valerie Millar (details below).

Issued by: The Glasgow Centre for Population Health

For further information contact Valerie Millar, Communications Manager, Glasgow Centre for Population Health on 0141 221 9439 or 07812 205246.  Alternatively email: [email protected].

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