Wigan among 50 unhealthiest places in England, according to new health index

Wigan is among the 50 unhealthiest areas in England, according to a new index which maps out the country’s wellbeing hotspots.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 11:25 am

The borough placed 103rd out of 149 local authorities in the league table, which has been compiled by the Office of National Statistics and financial services company Lane Clark & Peacock.

The table considers multiple health factor data such as adult obesity, dementia, cancer, and alcohol misuse.

The data is separated into three broad categories - Healthy People, Healthy Places and Healthy Lives, which then contain sub-categories such as environment, healthy eating and mental health.

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Wigan is among the 50 unhealthiest areas in England, according to a new index which maps out the country’s wellbeing hotspots

Wigan’s overall score was 97.3, coming far behind Wokingham which topped the ranks with a score of 110. At the bottom end of the table, Blackpool was named the unhealthiest local authority, with an average score of 86.

Wigan’s Healthy People score of 92.6 placed it in 114th position, and 111th for Healthy Lives with a score of 95.6. There was a more positive spot of 13th for Wigan in the Healthy Places category, which factors in affordable housing, air quality and access to private outdoor spaces.

Although Wigan placed considerably low on the overall score sheet, it placed higher than several North West neighbours like Bolton (109), Tameside (122), Oldham (126), Manchester (139), Salford (140) and St Helens (141).

Wigan came 6th in the table of “life worthwhileness”, and 15th for “personal wellbeing”. However, the town fell short of the England average score when it comes to area of Depression, where Wigan came 126th out of 149 areas with a score of 71.7, and Mental Health, where the town came close to the bottom of the pile in 142nd. Wigan was also struggling in the area of drug misuse, with a score of 76.1 placing it down in 140th.

Dr Jonathan Person-Stuttard, who recommended that the health index be set up in 2018, told the Sunday Times: “The numbers reveal clear and substantial differences across England and should be a wake-up call to the government to deliver on its manifesto pledge to level up regional inequalities.

“While there is some encouragement to be had from slight improvements in measures related to wellbeing and mortality, these have been cancelled out by worsening mental and physical health morbidity.

“These may have deteriorated further as a result of Covid-19.”

The figures can be viewed by clicking here.

Prof Kate Ardern, Wigan Council’s director for public health, said: “This model is a novel way of understanding the overall picture of residents’ health and identifies areas where strides forward have been made and areas which could be improved.

“It’s extremely positive to see how commitments to increasing affordable housing, improving air quality and upkeep of our fantastic green spaces has demonstrated tangible and measurable benefits for people throughout the borough as identified by Wigan being placed 13th in the Healthy Places category.

It’s also good news for the borough to be positioned 6th in the table of ‘life worthwhileness’, and 15th for ‘personal wellbeing’.

“However, we recognise there are improvements that can be made. We are continuously looking at ways to improve and a strong partnership with our drug and alcohol service provider, We Are With You in Wigan and Leigh, allows us to bring services directly to our communities.

“Significant investment has been made outside of the public health grant into community groups like Greenslate Farm to help us roll out specific interventions that support individual’s long term recovery.

“Despite unprecedented budget cuts, as well as reductions nationally for drug and alcohol services, we are confident that our service is delivering effective interventions to those who need it most.”

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