Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Picturesque beaches and clean sea air often make coastal towns popular travel destinations, but their appeal sometimes hides a health disparity that is apparent to locals. One of the seaside resorts with poorer health outcomes is Hartlepool.

Regionally, the north-east has the lowest government projections of life expectancy rates for men in England at 77.9 years, but figures for Hartlepool are even lower. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) report, male life expectancy in the town was 76.1 years.

While women tend to be expected to live significantly longer than men until 83.1 years on average in England, the rate was 81.4 years in Hartlepool.

Shane Moore, a councillor for the Headland and Harbour ward, one of the most deprived parts of town explained that health problems linked to industrial working conditions are partly responsible for lower life expectancy.

But lifestyle choices also seem to play a role. Moore told The Guardian: “Smoking, heavy drinking, drug misuse. They are markers that are brought up by the director of public health and time and time again by local services.”

Hartlepool has one of the highest death rates from drug misuse and alcohol-related liver disease in the north-east region. Furthermore, almost one in four women smoked in pregnancy compared with a national average of 10 percent.

The proportion of current UK smokers in 2017 stood at 15.1 percent, while 19.2 percent of Hartlepool population were smokers, according to the ONS and Public Health England figures.

Hartlepool isn’t the only seaside resort that hides a health disparity. Disproportionately high concentrations of chronic disease, mental illness and poor life expectancy also trouble some of England’s most popular holiday destinations, such as Blackpool, Hastings, Skegness, and Torbay.

A 2021 report by the country’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, revealed that coastal towns have some of the country’s poorest health outcomes, which leave many residents “old before their time”.

Whitty said: “Coastal areas are some the most beautiful, vibrant and historic places in the country. They also have some of the worst health outcomes with low life expectancy and high rates of many major diseases.”

The report found that poverty and poor health outcomes put Hartlepool at higher risk from the COVID-19 pandemic. The long-term health impact of this will be “significant”, according to the report.

Whitty urged investment in education, jobs, housing and transport, as well as action to tackle NHS staff shortages in these areas.

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