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Plans for each Gloucestershire councillor to spend £50k on healthcare in their area 'unfair'

By The Citizen  |  Posted: January 22, 2014

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INVESTMENT of £2.6million into improving the health and wellbeing of communities across the county has been criticised for not considering the specific needs of the most deprived wards.

New plans will see each county councillor awarded £50,000 to spend on healthcare improvements.

But the investment has been branded unfair in some quarters, with deprived areas in need of more investment getting the same amount of cash as other more affluent divisions of the county. Conservatives at the council have said areas with lower levels of child poverty will have other healthcare needs, such as elderly care.

Childhood obesity has long-term health implications into adulthood, including diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

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Latest figures show in Gloucester, of 4,232 four to five-year-olds measured, 10.5 per cent were obese. By the time children had reached Year 6, that figure almost doubles to 19.9 per cent.

City councillor Jennie Dallimore (C, Podsmead) welcomed the investment. She said: "I would welcome it in Podsmead as it would be a positive addition to the work that is already being done in the ward with the British Heart Foundation."

In Stroud, eight per cent of four to five-year-olds are classed as obese, and 15.1 per cent of 10 to 11-year-olds. The area with the highest rate of obesity in Gloucester is Matson and Robinswood, where 28 per cent of 10 to 11-year-olds are obese. In Longlevens, there are just 11 per cent of obese children of the same age.

In Cam East, 22.8 per cent of Year Six children are obese.

Sue Cunningham, principle officer for GL Communities in Matson said: "Decades of social policy such as housing allocations and care in the community have built up a bank of needs which means there are hotspots and areas like Matson that need extra support.

"If you look at the areas like Matson, Robinswood and Upton St Leonards, then you can see there are clearly very different public health and wellbeing needs.

"One area, both qualitatively and quantitatively, has higher needs than the others. Clearly a crude division of resources is not the best way to address need."

Stroud district councillor, Miranda Clifton (Labour, Cam East), said: "This idea flies in the face of any sensible plan to improve health locally. To pick one particular health issue and decide to spend an identical amount on it in each division, defies common sense. It is not a fair way of distributing money."

Within Stroud district, the child poverty rate varies from less than five per cent in Amberley, to 26 per cent in the Slade ward of Stroud; and from seven per cent in Cam East ward to 15 per cent in Cam West.

Dursley county councillor Steve Lydon chairs the Health Scrutiny Committee at Gloucestershire County Council. He said: "How does it make sense to spend a certain amount in an area where a lot of people can afford to join a gym, buy sports equipment or even personal training equipment for their home, but then spend only the same amount where many are having to resort to foodbanks?"

The county council is responsible for improving and protecting the health and wellbeing of communities. Health in Gloucestershire is good and generally better than the England average, but the health of some communities is not improving at the same rate as others.

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2 comments

  • Richardburton  |  January 22 2014, 4:07PM

    If the British Heart foundation are putting money/ resources in Podsmead shouldn't someone tell them ! While they are at it perhaps the residents should be told how to access this? Nobody tells the residents anything ! So if someone joined up the money from county council(tax payers) and the money?, from Heart foundation Podsmead should have enough money for perhaps an outside gym? Are the residents of these area's being asked what they want or would use?

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  • uk_socrates  |  January 22 2014, 1:04PM

    So whats this money actually going to be spent on?

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