Wiltshire Publications

Issue 455 – NHS survey reflects badly on Westbury

AN NHS survey has painted a gloomy picture of the state of health in the Westbury area.

The survey for the Westbury Community Area, which includes the villages surrounding the town, is part of NHS Wiltshire’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment for 2009/10.
The survey compares each of Wiltshire’s 20 community areas on a range of criteria, including rates of teenage pregnancy, smoking, obesity and coronary heart disease.
It was found that Westbury has high levels of teenage pregnancy, childhood obesity and prevalence of smoking compared to other parts of Wiltshire.
Westbury also scores poorly in other areas, such as self-reported health, domestic violence, and deaths occurring at home. The area comes 15th out of 18 community areas for teenage pregnancy, with 43.4 teenage pregnancies in girls under 18 per 1,000, equating to one in 23 girls aged 15-17 becoming pregnant. The Wiltshire average is 31.9 teenage pregnancies per 1,000.
For childhood obesity, Westbury is just off the bottom of the table, placed 19th out of 20 areas. Thirty percent of children measured in their school reception year in Westbury were found to be either overweight or obese, much higher than the Wiltshire average of 21.8 percent.
In the table for prevalence of smoking, Westbury is 16th out of 20, with 22 percent of the population a smoker against a county average of 20.2 percent. Smoking is strongly linked to cancers, cardiovascular diseases and other causes of premature mortality.
Life expectancy in Westbury is also below the county average; 78.7 years for men and 82.1 years for women, against Wiltshire averages of 79 years and 82.1 years respectively.
However Westbury does score highly for a low incidence of coronary heart disease, coming second in the county.
Despite the poor showing county-wide, Maggie Rae, NHS Wiltshire director of public health, said that Wiltshire is generally a healthy county compared to national averages. She said, “Overall Wiltshire is starting from a very good place.”
Dr Debbie Beale, senior partner at Westbury Group Practice said, “It’s interesting, it does fit in with the picture that we get at the surgery day to day. We don’t have all the figures and statistics to compare everything, but it felt right and there were no huge surprises.
“There are some problems, such as teenage pregnancies, weight issues and a high incidence of smoking. A lot of these go hand in hand with areas of deprivation, and we have areas of deprivation. This is the challenge for us. A lot of these issues are not just about a medical response but social, educational and economic responses. I think health care teams need to work with schools and social services and that has to be our aim to get to the people that need help.”
You can find out more about the survey by visiting www.wiltshirejsna.org