New Labour candidate at the next general election Guy Nicholson
Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Sittingbourne and Sheppey has called for urgent action to tackle health inequalities in Swale.
His plea is based on a Kent and Medway Public Health Observatory report which shows the borough has the second-lowest life expectancy in the NHS Eastern and Coastal Kent area and “relatively high” teenage conception rates.
Guy Nicholson, who was nominated by Labour constituency members in July, said: “Using statistics for Swale, it is clear that local people suffer from unequal outcomes in health care compared with people living in other parts of Kent and in the country.
“What is more, inequality to an unacceptable degree is to be found between different sections of our local community.
“It is just over 10 miles from Iwade to Leysdown and a 10-year difference in life expectancy.
“It’s as if you lose a year of life every mile you travel between those two communities.” Using five years’ worth of mortality rates between 2006 and 2010, the report shows the average life expectancy at birth in Swale as 79.4 years.
It also revealed people in Iwade and Lower Halstow were expected to live longest in the borough (85.1 years) – more than a decade longer than residents in Leysdown and Warden, who had the lowest predicted lifespan (73.4 years).
The teenage conception rate for Roman ward in Sittingbourne, and Leysdown and Warden wards, were also found to be the highest in Eastern and Coastal Kent. It showed a pregnancy ratio of 75 to 100 per 1,000 girls under 18 in these areas.
The report said: “This data fits with the notion that women from poorer backgrounds are more likely to become mothers as a teenager.”
Figures released by NHS Swale Clinical Commissioning Group show the borough has the highest rate of diabetes in Kent, along with Thanet, at 6.6% of the adult population.
According to the report, 5,459 people have been diagnosed with the disease in Swale, with doctors estimating another 503 are unaware they have the condition.
Mr Nicholson said: “We need concerted political action – Sittingbourne and Sheppey cannot just be left behind.
“We must press the government for better funding for the Swale Clinical Commissioning Group.”