Thousands living in poverty, tens of thousands on benefits

Tens of thousands of people are claiming benefits in Wigan

Tens of thousands of people are claiming benefits in Wigan

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MORE than 11,000 children in Wigan live in poverty while 28,000 adults are claiming out-of-work benefits.

These figures show some of the challenges facing health services in the borough and were included in a report prepared for NHS Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group’s governing body.

We have been working with our partners from across health and care in Wigan to address the challenges that the borough faces

Dr Tim Dalton

As well as showing that 11,440 children face daily challeges in their lives, the figures reveal that in 2013/2014 there were 1,217 hospital stays for self-harm in the borough and 2,716 for alcohol-related harm, which are worse than the average for England.

Dr Tim Dalton, GP, clinical chair of the CCG and joint chair of Wigan Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “We have been working with our partners from across health and care in Wigan to address the challenges that the borough faces.

“Our population is getting older and there are many people in the borough who are living in poverty and who are out of work.

“This can and does have an impact on health, including mental health, and can lead to people making decisions that harm their wellbeing, including drinking more, smoking and not getting enough exercise.

“In order to meet both the current and future challenges, we are changing the way that we work so that we can target services better at those most in need and focus more on what keeps people well in their homes and communities.

“This approach helps our most vulnerable residents, for example, troubled families, those with long term conditions, and people with alcohol dependency.

“As part of the work on Greater Manchester Devolution, each local area has been invited to present its own plan for the future of health and care over the next five years. We want to build on the progress that we have already made and transform the way that services are delivered.”

The borough is also worse than the average in England for the number of long-term unemployed and for people diagnosed with diabetes. Life expectancy for both men and women is also lower than the average.

But the number of recorded violent crimes in the borough and people seriously injured or killed on the roads both remain better than the average for England.

Lord Peter Smith, leader of Wigan Council, said: “Nowhere in Greater Manchester do all parts of the health and social sector work as closely together as we do in Wigan as we are determined to improve the outcomes for local people.

“There are many challenges that we will have to face, not least our historic underfunding, but by focusing on people we hope to work better together to meet these.”