Shock rise in deaths and crime in Wigan

Dr Kate Ardern, executive director of Public Health for the borough of Wigan
Dr Kate Ardern, executive director of Public Health for the borough of Wigan

Deaths from drug misuse, suicides and winter illnesses have all rocketed in the borough, shock new figures reveal.

Updates to a health profile for Wigan, published by Public Health England, show that the number of people dying in the winter months compared to other times of the year have risen dramatically, from 489 between August 2011 and July 2014 to 676 from August 2012 to July 2015.

We are currently in the process of working with partners to create a suicide prevention campaign which aims to reduce the number of suicides across the borough and improve the services available to bereaved families

Prof Kate Ardern

Similarly, the number of deaths linked to the misuse of drugs have shot up from 38 between 2012 and 2014 to 52 from 2013 to 2015.

The suicide rate increased from 94 in the same period to 103 between 2013 and 2015.

And the number of violent crimes recorded also rose from 3,855 in 2014/15 to 5,295 in 2015/16.
Public health chiefs today pledged to continue doing all they could to prevent tragedies.

The updated figures have been added to the town’s health profile and includes a number of key indicators aimed at helping local authorities tackle problem areas.

The figures from Public Health England do show improvements in some areas such a statutory homelessness which dropped slightly from 113 in 2014/15 to 109 in 2015/16 while the number of women smoking at the time their baby is born fell from 586 to 495 in the same period.

Excess weight in adults rose from 68.1 per cent to 69.4, as did TB cases from 34 to 39. Deaths of under-75s from heart disease and cancer fell but remain worse that the English average.

Wigan Council public health director Prof Kate Ardern said: “The health of people in the borough is a priority for us and we are continuously striving to improve this. The work Wigan Council and its partners does to prevent homelessness has been recognised as among the very best in the country.

“Having services such as the Healthy Routes shop in Wigan and Leigh town centres is a fantastic support to people in the borough who want help to quit smoking, and this has been proven in the decline in the number of resident who smoke in the borough.

“It is really encouraging to see the number of people dying from cardiovascular disease and cancer in the borough has fallen. This goes hand in hand with the rise in the healthy life expectancy of residents.

“We are currently in the process of working with partners to create a suicide prevention campaign which aims to reduce the number of suicides across the borough and improve the services available to bereaved families.

“Working closely with our partners at the NHS we aim to tackle the problem of drug misuse through our commissioned service Wigan and Leigh Recovery Partnership, which offers a wide range of support to anyone struggling with drug issues. We have a number of innovative projects such as our recovery champions and our partnership with Greenslate Farm which has received national backing from Public Health England.

“We are doing all we can to encourage people to take care of themselves in winter which includes having your flu jab and following simple infection control measures such as washing hands thoroughly. We also offer advice and financial support for people in fuel poverty to stop our residents living in cold homes, this is all done through our AWARM scheme.”