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Wokingham ranks healthiest place to live in England

Wokingham Town Hall WEB

WOKINGHAM is the healthiest place to live in England according to a new survey of the country’s local authorities. 

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) Health Index Data aims to measure the health of the nation in a holistic way, the first time that different strands have been brought together. 

The borough tops the table for healthy residents, lives and places. 

The index, compiled using ONS data in partnership with Lane Clark Peacock (LCP), says that England’s health index is 99.7 – but Wokingham is 110.1. The most deprived local authority is Blackpool at 86.4. 

Leader of the borough council, Cllr John Halsall, said the score was great news.

“It’s not surprising though as I’ve known for years what a wonderful place to live Wokingham borough is and we work hard to ensure our residents have access to facilities and services to maximise their emotional and physical health and wellbeing, such as good housing and schools, state of the art sports and leisure facilities, lots of open green spaces and access to nature, vibrant towns and villages and great transport connections to the rest of the country,” he said. 

“This index is based on data that is now a few years old. It doesn’t take into account the impact of the last year. 

“But even through this year of the pandemic, we have been working very hard to ensure all our residents and businesses have the support they need to get through this.”

Some of the largest contributors to the gap in the health index are in depression (51.0 in Blackpool vs 95.2 in Wokingham) and avoidable deaths (71.1 vs 121.0). Substantial inequities exist across local authorities in children’s social and mental health (83.9 vs 118.5) alongside smoking (85.4 vs 130.7).

The south east average score is 102.5, with London at 101.0. 

The baseline is a score of 100, and was set using 2015 data. The scores in this new chart were based on 2018, the latest year for which data is available. 

LCP says that in that time, there were overall improvements to overall wellbeing and mortality, but they were cancelled out by worsening mental and physical health morbidity.

While Wokingham scores highly in healthy lives – coming in at 117.1 – and healthy people (111.5), it only scores 101.5 for the healthy places category. 

Certain sections of this are below the 100 score.

They include air pollution (88.7), transport noise (93.1), road traffic volume (99), access to services such as GP surgeries, pharmacies and  sports and leisure facilities (96.7). 

Housing affordability comes in at 87.6, while access to housing scores 100.8.  

Dr Jonathan Pearson-Stuttard, head of LCP’s Health Analytics team, said: “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.

“Being able to identify the components that account for the variations in the index over time and across populations, both by geography and deprivation, provides the opportunity to take a data-driven approach to investing in communities and build back better in 2021.”

To see the index, visit: healthindex.lcp.uk.com/map

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