Wirral councillors mourn decade long failure to narrow the borough’s health inequalities

By Ed Barnes - Local Democracy Reporter

25th Oct 2022 | Local News

Wallasey Town Hall
Wallasey Town Hall

The health and wellbeing of people in Wirral hasn't improved in ten years according to one councillor as she criticised a lack of progress by the local authority.

Councillors said there had been little progress from Wirral Council in tackling health inequalities in the area with another saying that if he went back in a Tardis to his childhood, he would see similar conditions in some neighbourhoods to today.

Conservative Cllr Cherry Povall, who represents Clatterbridge, praised a report on the council's new health and wellbeing strategy as "in-depth" but added she found "it all a bit depressing."

She said: "There has been millions of pounds poured into deprivation on the east side of Wirral and we're still no further on. There's still that divide in death rates from the east and the west.

"It just seems that we continually produce wonderful reports that we're going to do this, we're going to do that, we're going to do the other and we are always back to there is still this huge difference in life expectancy on either side of the Wirral.

"No matter how much money has been put into it, no matter how many people have worked on it, we just don't seem to be able to move this at all. It's really quite depressing.

"I say it's been a long time since I've been on this committee. I was on it 10 years ago and we were talking about the same things then. We just do not seem to have moved anywhere further."

New statistics published by Wirral Council showed big gaps in life expectancy with children born in wealthier parts expected to live 12 years longer than those in more deprived areas.

More than half of the population in Wirral live in some of the poorest areas in the country with low health outcomes with a big divide between east and west.

Jane Harvey, a Public Health consultant, defended the report saying it was not "lip service" and said the policy "has got to be a living and breathing strategy and we might take a slight turn to tackle particular areas and I think this is a really good starting point for that."

She added: "I think I'd say yeah, it's very frustrating. I think we're always going to have inequalities that are difficult to accept and I would argue we have made significant progress over the years but the difference is still there

"I think there are a lot of factors involved in this but it's all always about trying to do things differently. We have never been through a period like the last few years in terms of pulling together in a different way. 

"As frustrating as it is, I would say that if we hadn't pulled together as we have been doing the past few years, we would probably be in a worse position but that's difficult to prove.

"We have to keep going with a renewed kind of motivation. We have to give it a really good go, don't we?"

Councillors also discussed social care reform and how the system would be made fairer and more accessible for people needing help, particularly at the end of their lives.

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