Action pledge over shocking toll of early death across resort

Council bosses have said schemes to try and reduce alcohol and tobacco related illnesses are starting to take effect.
Council bosses have said schemes to try and reduce alcohol and tobacco related illnesses are starting to take effect.

New figures today revealed the staggering rate of premature deaths in Blackpool.

Of 150 authorities in England, the resort was rated second for people dying before the age of 75 with 549 deaths per 100,000 people.

Of the figures, taken from 2011 to 2013, only Manchester rated higher.

The Public Health England figures also revealed Blackpool topped the table for premature deaths relating to lung disease and liver disease –
illnesses linked to smoking and drinking.

Today health bosses said the figures come as “no surprise” and admitted a “cultural change” was needed to tackle the problem – with several new projects already underway.

Blackpool’s cabinet member for health Coun Eddie Collett said: “This comes as no surprise to us or anybody else involved with health in Blackpool.

“There are high levels of deprivation in the town and as a result we have more people smoking, drinking and eating poorly than other, leafier, parts of the country.

“These types of figures don’t change overnight but we are working hard with our partners to get the numbers going in the right direction.”

Last year the council launched a new service called Horizon to help with alcohol misuse, while Blackpool NHS Trust runs a dedicated stop smoking service.

As revealed in last week’s Gazette, the resort’s health service spends more than £7m a year treating tobacco related illnesses – with alcohol related harm worse than the national average.

But Coun Collett said the programmes were starting to take effect, with a decline spotted by the authority.

He added: “Smoking rates were down by three percent last year, which is a big improvement and we hope the introduction of new national smoking legislation, along with our hard work, will bring that down even further.

“One of the well documented problems is alcohol and liver disease. That is a difficult problem for Blackpool to tackle in isolation and we are lobbying the Government on how alcohol is advertised.

“A cultural change is needed throughout society to tackle this problem permanently however.” The resort was pushed up the health table rankings by its lung and liver disease record.

It topped the table ahead of Manchester and Liverpool with 78 deaths per 100,000 for lung disease and featured ahead of both regional cities for liver disease, with 43 deaths per 100,000.

INJURIES

In terms of deaths related to injuries, Blackpool featured above Liverpool and Blackburn with Darwen with 24 premature deaths.

Tracey Burrell, assistant director of nursing for quality and safety at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said work was being done to reduce the alarming figures by looking at introducing “clinical pathways” – standardised medical guidelines on how a condition should be treated, which she said have been shown to reduce complications and length of stay in hospital.

“To ensure we provide the best care and treatment possible to patients we have in place clinical care pathways for conditions such as pneumonia and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) which are related to people with lung conditions,” she added.

“As part of an ongoing programme of clinical pathway development to support reduction in mortally rates we will shortly be developing a pathway for alcohol-related liver disease.”

But a recent Public Health England report observing health in Blackpool said death rates remain well above the 
national average.

It said: “The health of people in Blackpool is generally worse than the England average, including violent crime, hospital stays for alcohol related harm and drug misuse.

“However, a few indicators are similar to the England average, such as excess winter deaths.

“There are inequalities by deprivation and gender. For example, men in the least deprived areas in Blackpool can expect to live almost 10 years longer than men in the most deprived areas, and for women this difference is eight and a half years.

“Over the last 10 years there have been decreases in death rates from all causes and in early death rates from heart disease and stroke, and cancer.

“However, these rates remain well above the England averages. The gap between Blackpool and England death rates from all causes for men has widened over the decade.”