Life expectancy in County Durham has fallen in the wake of Covid-19, with women’s life expectancy falling by sixth months and men’s falling by seven months.
Along with a fall in life expectancy, there was also a rise in smoking, including a rise in mothers smoking at the time of delivery, and suicide rates. The report also covered concerns about how the pandemic affected children’s health and wellbeing.
These statistics come as part of a performance report presented in a Durham County Council cabinet meeting this week by the corporate director of resources Paul Darby, who said in the meeting: “The pandemic has made it more difficult for people to participate in sport and activity”.
“Worryingly this has also manifested itself in an increase in childhood obesity, as well as the percentage of adults being overweight”.
Darby highlighted poverty pressure as a main cause of the issues as the region is hit by basic living costs rising with little change in disposable income.
Leader of the council, Councillor Amanda Hopgood, responded to the report by saying, “many households in our county are undoubtedly struggling currently with increased cost of living and the impact of the withdrawal of the Universal Credit temporary uplift and the ending of the furlough scheme.”
“These are very real issues which we need to work with partners to address and help alleviate the impacts through our support to vulnerable households.
“Once again the health inequalities and challenges we face in our county are highlighted with a worrying deterioration in health life expectancy flagged for both men and women”
The issue of life expectancy was also raised in the full council meeting last week where Councillor David Boyes said “life expectancy has stalled for the first time in about 100 years.”
“If we drill down further some of our most deprived communities are expected to live seven years less than some of the better off communities in County Durham”.
“This is a sad indictment on what’s happened over the last 10 years”.
The North East has the lowest regional life expectancy in the UK, with men’s life expectancy around 77.6 years and women’s around 81.5 years as of 2020, with both men and women dying three years earlier than their counterparts in London.
Image: Mark Norton