THIS week I want to pose a question – what can we do about the health inequalities in our town?

Did you know that people living in the more deprived parts of Bolton have a higher chance of developing a health problem earlier than those in a more affluent area?

Men will start getting a health problem in deprived areas when they are around 50, but in a more affluent area they can continue to enjoy a healthier life for around 17 years longer.

This difference also applies to women, but the gap is slightly narrower at 11 years.

This is called the healthy life expectancy.

Similarly, the life expectancy of a child born in different parts of Bolton is determined by location so children born on the same day but two miles apart can expect to live to different ages.

I find this discrepancy worrying, and entirely unacceptable.

We are already working in partnership with other organisations to narrow this health gap, but we can - and should - do more.

This gap is disturbing and, I’ll admit, difficult to address. But the key is to start at the very beginning with our children.

There is already some excellent work being done by our partners at Bolton Council to give children the best possible start in life in terms of personal and educational development.

And we believe if we give our children the right start and the right early help we can start to close the gap.

With this in mind, we want to start taking the NHS into our schools and work with our children to give them the best possible start.

After all, evidence shows that a good start in life can contribute to a healthy life into adulthood.