HEALTHY life expectancy for people in Inverclyde remains below the Scottish average – with local men expected to live just 57 years of their life in good health.
Figures for 2019-21 just published by National Records of Scotland estimate local men will live healthily for only 57.7 years, with the area’s women projected to stay healthy for 59.3 years.
But the male expectancy was a significant improvement on 2018-20’s figure of 54.4 years, which was the lowest in Scotland.
However it remains below the Scottish average of 60.4 years.
The figure for women registered a slight decline, slipping back from 59.4 in 2018-20, and remains lower than the national average for women, which was 61.1.
Reacting to the statistics, council leader Stephen McCabe and area MP Ronnie Cowan both highlighted the link between Inverclyde’s high levels of deprivation and poor health.
Councillor McCabe said: “Lower healthy life expectancy is not just a problem in Inverclyde, it is a problem across the country with Scotland having the lowest life expectancy in the UK, which raises questions about our lifestyle choices as well as public policy.
“The issue is more acute in areas with high levels of deprivation with National Records of Scotland’s statistics revealing both females and males live significantly longer healthy lives in the least deprived areas.
“While NRS have said that some of the recent fall in healthy life expectancy may be due to the impact of Covid-19, healthy life expectancy in Scotland has been falling for some time.
“It is no coincidence in my opinion that UK Tory governments have been pursuing an austerity agenda since 2010 which has impacted directly on the poorest in our communities, who suffer the highest levels of deprivation.
“Although this doesn’t explain why overall healthy life expectancy has fallen more in Scotland than the UK overall.”
Mr McCabe says the council has been doing its best to support the most deprived in our communities, but added that its ability to do so has been ‘severely hampered’ by ongoing cuts to its funding by the Scottish Government.
He added: “Councils alone are not able to reverse the falls in healthy life expectancy we are seeing.
“This requires concerted political action at UK, Scottish and local levels to address the underlying causes of this fall.
“To bring this about we need a change of government at Westminster, and a government at Holyrood focused on reducing poverty and inequality rather than breaking up Britain and fair funding for local government so we can take action to help our communities to live healthier lives.”
Mr Cowan told the Telegraph that despite the improvement for men, work was still needed to produce better outcomes across the area.
He added: “While these figures show some improvement in terms of Inverclyde within Scotland as a whole, it is from a low starting point, and clearly much more needs to be done.
“Poor health outcomes are linked to deprivation.
“While the NHS in Scotland has been subject to enormous strain through Covid and barmy ideology-driven UK Tory financial policies which are costing Scots dearly, it is out-performing the NHS in the rest of the UK.
“The Holyrood finance secretary’s budget statement injects £1 billion into NHS Scotland which is in stark contrast to the billions in tax cuts the Tories tried to hand to top earners through heaping debt on the rest of us, or the millions wasted in failed PPE contracts handed to cronies.
“This will provide improvements to health outcomes in Inverclyde and across Scotland.
“But the limited levers available to Holyrood are a poor substitute for independence, which, with full fiscal powers, would mean Scotland’s wealth could be fairly shared across all civic life, including health and social care.”