8.1.1 During 2006–09, the South West had the joint highest life expectancy of all the English regions for women (83 years) and one of the highest for men (79 years).
8.1.2 Mortality rates from major disease groups such as cancer and circulatory diseases are amongst the lowest in England (Table 22.214.171.124).
8.1.3 Children’s health is also generally good in the South West, with levels of both physical activity and obesity better than the England average.
8.1.4 However, these positive overall statistics mask inequalities within the South West. People living in areas of greatest deprivation have shorter life expectancies than those in the least deprived areas. For example, men living in the most deprived areas of North Somerset die almost 10 years earlier than their neighbours in less deprived areas. Issues associated with reduced life expectancy include equality of access to education, employment and income, as well as differences in individual behaviour. Moreover, geographical differences might in part be a consequence of internal migration, whereby healthier and wealthier individuals move to more affluent areas.
8.1.5 Latest data for 2006–08 show that there are, on average, 35 conceptions per 1,000 females aged 15–17 in the South West each year, which is lower than the England average of 41. However, a number of areas in the South West have significantly higher rates than the England average: Torbay and Bristol are highest at 58 and 51 conceptions per 1,000 females aged 15–17 respectively.
8.1.6 The choices that adults make are key to improving the future health of the South West. While smoking rates have reduced in recent years, it is estimated that almost one in five adults still smoke, and this varies according to occupation. In Great Britain approximately 28% of those in a routine or manual occupation smoke, compared to 15% in professional and managerial roles: the percentages are likely to be the same in the South West.
8.1.7 Overall, the South West has relatively low rates of serious injury and death from road transport incidents, with 46 deaths per 100,000 residents compared to England’s 52. However, this still equates to nearly 2,400 people being seriously injured or losing their lives on the South West’s roads each year.
8.1.8 In 2008/09 there were an estimated 3,800 excess winter deaths in the South West, of which almost two-thirds occurred in those aged 85 years and older. In 2009/10 there were 2,700 excess winter deaths in the South West,
with a lower proportion in those aged 85 years and older than in 2008/09.
8.1.9 GP consultation rates for influenza-like illness (ILI) from week 14 in 2009 (30th March to 5th April) to week 13 in 2010 (29th March to 4th April) in the UK and South West showed a peak in the summer weeks 28 to 32 (6th July to 9th August 2009) due to Swine Flu (Figure 126.96.36.199). The highest UK peak was 225.6 per 100,000 in week 30 (20th to 26th July 2009); the highest South West peak was 218 per 100,000, also in week 30. There was also a smaller peak over baseline levels (20 per 100,000 population) across the winter weeks.