Wirral is a borough of contrasts, both in its physical characteristics and demographics. Rural and urban industrialised areas sit side by side in a compact peninsula of just 60 square miles of coastline. The most recent population figures for Wirral suggest it is about 321,000 making it one of the largest metropolitan boroughs in England.
Demographically Wirral differs slightly to England as it has a lower proportion of younger adults in their 20s and 30s and a higher proportion of older people. The area has many strengths but there are also significant inequalities, especially in relation to deprivation which is most prevalent in the eastern part of the borough.
In the most deprived areas of Wirral, life expectancy is 11.7 years lower for men and 9.7 years lower for women than in the most affluent parts of the borough. The health of people in Wirral is varied compared with the England average.
Wirral is one of the 20% most deprived boroughs in England and about a quarter of children live in low income families. Life expectancy for both men and women is lower than the England average. This drives poorer health outcomes in these areas with people more likely to smoke, have lower levels of physical activity and poor diets.
Wirral also has an older population when compared to the national average especially those over 65 – with one in three living alone. Local priorities in Wirral include a healthy older age, a positive start in life and keeping people well by reducing alcohol and tobacco use and lowering blood pressure.
Unless there are big changes it is predicted that the biggest burdens of ill health for the people of Wirral will be:
Alcohol and alcohol related disease
NHS Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is striving to reduce the significant inequalities in the borough and aspires to eliminate them entirely in the future. Achievement of this ambitious aim will need a partnership approach due to the complex nature of the issues.
Several strategies are in place:
- Joint Strategic Needs Assessment to inform of service development and joint commissioning
- Health and Wellbeing Board Strategy
- Enhanced services in Primary Care aimed at the early identification and treatment of disease
- Collaborative working with Wirral Council in several areas relating to reducing health inequalities, including the ongoing development of the Better Care Fund and regular strategic joint commissioning meetings
- Impact assessment of all CCG commissioning to ensure equitable service provision to prevent further widening of the inequality gap
- The adoption by NHS Wirral CCG of a ‘vision’ which states ‘People will have the opportunity to live longer and healthier lives regardless of where they live in Wirral’
- The further development of a ‘Healthy Wirral’ plan which is built on the three principles of Better Health, Better Care and Better Value
The Healthy Wirral partnership is to enable all people in Wirral to live longer and healthier lives and access the very best health and social care services when they really need them, as close to home as possible.
Teams led by GPs and made up of health and care professionals and voluntary and third sector organisations will work in nine neighbourhoods across Wirral. The teams will know and have affinity with the local population and their needs, will identify people who would benefit from proactive care support and have a detailed knowledge of available people, services and community assets and where people are empowered to make the best choices, plans and actions for health and wellbeing.
Case Study – Wirral Neighbourhood Teams
Wirral has been successful in securing funding to enhance its ‘Neighbourhood’ teams with staff who will be working out ways of improving how services can be delivered. Their initial focus will be reducing unplanned hospital admissions amongst people over the age of 50 by 12% during 2018/19, creating significant savings for the NHS.
The lead for Wirral is Simon Banks, Chief Officer of NHS Wirral CCG.