How to add seven years to your life


In my case I appear to have done this simply by moving away from home.

The news report last night mentioned that life expectancy in Fleetwood (where I was born and grew up) is seven years shorter than in nearby Poulton-le-Fylde (where I went to school).  That hides a greater disparity within the town itself where the most deprived council wards have a life expectancy for males that barely creeps above 70 years - against a London figure exceeding 79 and a national figure which is over 81.

What comes through in the report is the combination of life choices and external circumstances. Fleetwood has worse than national averages on almost every Quality of Outcome Framework measure, the only two on which is not above average being dementia and osteoporosis both of which increase with age.  Draw your own conclusions on the logic.

This will be an interesting experiment in social attitudes.  There were many reasons for me to leave Fleetwood but the choices that people around me were making constituted a significant part of the package.

In a wider sense the lack of hope for the future highlights a wider malaise that can become a downward spiral.  If increased health brings a better quality of life and better financial prospects then maybe the cycle can be reversed.

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GP Mark Spencer explains why he is overseeing an ambitious year-long project in his town aimed at improving the health of people in his town.I've been a GP in Fleetwood, Lancashire. for over 25 years. Have I had a positive influence on people's health? Well, hopefully yes, but only on an individual one-to-one basis.
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