Cheshire and Merseyside is a vibrant and dynamic region with incredible potential. Over the past 15 years, the area has come a long way, with significant improvements in health and social care.
Survival from cancer and heart disease has increased, waiting times for some treatments are shorter and the quality of care services are higher. More people are cared for in their homes, extra support has been provided to families with children and there are many attractive areas to live, work, visit and study.
However, the population of Cheshire and Merseyside has traditionally suffered some of the poorest health outcomes in England. We face several challenges, some of which are too large for individual organisations, boroughs, or our Places to solve on their own.
The health and care system is under significant pressure. Local authorities are facing considerable financial challenges to maintain services, growing numbers of people are attending hospitals, and people often have to wait a long time before they can see a GP or access some NHS services.
Change is needed, both in the way services are delivered and in the way people use them. We know that many people using the health and social care system feel that it is complicated and delivered in an uncoordinated way. Whilst we have made a positive start on addressing these challenges, there is much more still to do.
We also have significant health inequalities across Cheshire and Merseyside. For example, the differences in life expectancy at birth between our most and least deprived areas are over 13 years for men and nearly 12 years for women, with some of our communities facing a healthy life expectancy of four years below the average in England. While there are different challenges in Merseyside to those in Cheshire, both face inequalities in health across their populations.
In the Liverpool City Regions (including Liverpool, Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens, and Wirral), 45% of the population live in the most deprived 20% of neighbourhoods in England. Healthy life expectancy is four years below the England average and 26% of children aged 0-15 live in poverty. We also have significantly worse rates than the national average for cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory deaths.
Across Cheshire and Warrington, 14% of the population live in the most deprived 20% of neighbourhoods in England, with 17.3% of children aged 0-15 living in poverty. Cheshire and Warrington also have higher-than-average numbers of long-term conditions that affect daily activity, as well as higher alcohol-related admissions to hospital and large numbers of self-harm in young people.
We want to address the causes of this growing gap in life expectancy of the most deprived in our society. We want to remove the barriers for people accessing services (such as distance, education, opportunity, cultural and social barriers) and deliver the vital improvements to services that our people need.
We know we cannot focus on health and care alone – we will need to work with other public services (such as education, police, housing and community organisations) to truly transform health and well-being across Cheshire and Merseyside.