BOLTON’S poorest people have a lower life expectancy than those living in impoverished countries such as Guatemala, Lithuania, Samoa, Paraguay and Iran.
Data obtained by The Bolton News shows worrying comparisons between the most deprived 10 per cent of Bolton’s population and some of the world’s poorest nations.
Figures also show that the most deprived men and women living in Bolton could expect to live significantly shorter lives than their neighbours in the most affluent 10 per cent.
The report was published by Bolton’s Public Health when it was part of the Primary Care Trust — before it moved over to Bolton Council in 2012 — but the inequality still stands according to health chiefs, who added that there is a life expectancy gap of almost 13 years between people living just five miles apart.
Dave Bagley, of Bolton Urban Outreach, said: “It really is shocking that we are one of the richest countries in the world and we have such abject poverty in our town.
“To have lower life expectancy than countries like Guatemala is just awful.
“I know the council is doing its best to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor, but it must be very difficult when they have had £100 million cut by the Government.
“These cuts will hit the most vulnerable hardest.”
The comparison between Bolton’s poorest men and women to those living in developing countries was made as part of a Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA).
It shows men living in the most deprived area of Bolton had a life expectancy of just 69.2 years, which was 9.4 years lower than the English national average and about four years lower than the national average for men and women in the West Bank and Gaza territories before the latest conflict broke out.
At the time the report was published, life expectancy in Iran stood at 73 and 72.4 in Samoa.
In 2014, life expectancy in Bolton has improved with an average of 77.4 years for men and 81.4 years for women.
These are both still almost two years lower than the national averages of 79.2 for men and 83 for women.
Smoking, alcohol consumption, poor diet and obesity have the biggest impact on life expectancy in the poorer areas, according to health chiefs.
Dr Stephen Liversedge, clinical director for primary care and health improvement at Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Reducing inequalities in health, both between Bolton and the rest of the country, and between areas in Bolton, is a top priority for NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group.
“The key is to address certain lifestyle issues that affect many people, but are more prevalent in deprived areas, such as smoking, weight, diet, alcohol and exercise.
“We have been working hard in this area for some time, with initiatives such as the Big Bolton Health Check and our Preventing Diabetes Project, and have seen a fall in hospital admissions for heart attacks and deaths due to cardiovascular disease.
“Much progress has been made in Bolton over recent years, but health remains a major source of inequality in our borough.
“We will continue to work with our partners and healthcare providers to tackle these challenges.”
And Public Health now say the town’s health is getting better.
A Bolton Council spokesman said: “Life expectancy is commonly measured by looking at life expectancy at birth and estimating how long a person is likely to live if all conditions remain the same as at that time.
“We recognise that the life expectancy for Bolton residents is slightly below the national average and we are constantly working to improve this and narrow the gap.
“Bolton is a diverse place with extremes of affluence and deprivation, which contribute to the way we compare to the national average.
“However, in recent years the gap between Bolton and the England average has narrowed and our average life expectancy has improved, increasing to 77.4 years for men and 81.4 years for women, so we are certainly travelling in the right direction.
“One of the biggest contributors to the gap is long-term conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, and we have highlighted that as one of our priority areas.
“We will continue to work with our partners to improve everyone’s health in the borough, and have already made good progress with schemes like the Big Bolton Health Check, stop smoking initiatives and promoting healthy eating for all ages.”