Bristolians die sooner than in other parts of England

July 2, 2009

A new NHS report shows Bristolians die sooner than average, and reveals massive differences in health between races and between rich and poor.

It shows Bristolians as a whole are likely to die earlier than people living in other parts of England.

It also reveals poor Bristolians are likely to die earlier than the rich, and black children are three times more likely to grow up poor than white children.

Health bosses put Bristol’s poor showing down to the problems common to all cities and that it is comparable to others such as Liverpool and Birmingham.

Lower life expectancy

Overall, average life expectancy for the city is lower than the national average. Men’s lives in Bristol are a year shorter on average than in the rest of the country; women’s lives 7 months shorter.

It also shows more Bristolians die early from heart disease and strokes than average, but this figure has fallen over recent years, in line with the national trend.

Other statistics are equally damning: Bristol has more problem drug users than almost any other part of the country, fares significantly worse than the national average for violent crime and has low GCSE achievement.

Class and race divisions

Most shocking however are the sharp divisions in health caused by poverty and ethnic origin.

The richest Bristolian men can expect to live nearly 9 years longer than the poorest; the richest women 6 years longer.

Among the most startling findings in the rport are that proportionally, three times as many black Bristol children are eligible for free school meals than white children. Being eligible for free school meals is often considered a key indicator of poverty.

Dr Gabriel Scally, the South West’s director of Public Health, said some of the figures were truly he shocking.

He said: “Those statistics about ethnicity are very difficult to look at and to absorb. Such levels of inequality are clearly issues of social justice that need to be tackled.”

He told us air pollution, poor housing and levels of exercise all significantly affected life expectancy and that the city’s history was partly to blame.

He said: “The legacy of Imperial Tobacco means that, especially in south Bristol, there are very high levels of smoking. Smoking, more than any other single factor, determines the health of a population. It just kills so many people.”

Problems “common to cities”

Health bosses told #SITE_NAME# Bristol fared badly against England as a whole because so much of England is rural and does not have the same problems with pollution, deprivation and drug use common to cities.

In a statement, NHS Bristol said: “Bristol compares unfavourably to the rest of the South West as it is very different socio-economically.

“However, when Bristol’s health outcomes are compared to similar cities such as Liverpool, Nottingham & Birmingham, Bristol is one of the leaders in areas such as breast feeding, smoking during pregnancy and tooth decay in children.”

You can download the Bristol report here



  1. Do such reports ever tell us anything other than the blindingly obvious?

    • I think it’s a bit harsh Chris to say it’s ‘blindingly obvious’ that black kids are three times more likely to need free school meals than white kids, and that the poorest Bristolians die 9 years earlier than the richest. I found these figures genuinely shocking. We tend to think of ourselves as rather classless these days, but figures like these are a good reminder that isn’t true.

      • Maybe I’m cynical but none of that surprises me at all.

        Wealth and health are not just mutually causative but are both a function of common root causes like genetic inheritance, intelligence, upbringing and education.

        Black kids come overwhelmingly from poorer backgrounds as is obvious if you wander around St Pauls and then say St Andrews.

        Class differences aren’t as clearly demarcated as might have been the case 50 years ago but the inequalities are as sharp as ever.


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