The World Health Organization defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". Health is determined by a complex interaction between individual characteristics, lifestyle, and the physical, social and economic environment. Most experts agree that these wider determinants of health and our health behaviours are more important than health care in ensuring a healthy population. These pages provide a local insight into the health and wellbeing needs of Lancashire citizens.

Every year, analysts from the JSNA joint working group pick out the key issues for health, wellbeing, social care and the wider determinants of health in Lancashire-12 (the 12 district authorities in the county council area). These are compiled into the JSNA annual commentary.

Key issues

The health of people in Lancashire-12 varies when compared to England. Within the county there are wide differences between the most and least deprived areas. For example in the most deprived areas life expectancy at birth for men is 10.2 years lower and 7.1 years lower for women, when compared to the least deprived areas (2012-14). These inequalities can often begin in childhood and the health of children and young people is of paramount importance; ensuring healthy development into adulthood is vital. 

The infant mortality rate in Lancashire-12 has levelled, although it remains significantly higher than England. The evidence shows rates of overweight and obese children varies compared to England, while there are issues around unintentional injuries and hospital admissions. 

The health of adults in the county is mixed; prevalence and incidence rates for cancer, cardiovascular disease and liver disease are all above national rates (although this may be indicative of effective screening in some districts) and residents in the more deprived areas of Lancashire-12 tend to have higher levels of premature and overall mortality from these conditions. Obesity and overweight rates for adults in Lancashire-12 are in line with England, but there are some districts with significantly higher levels and some with significantly lower levels. Again national trends indicate an increase overall in the numbers who are obese or overweight and it is expected the rates in Lancashire-12 will also rise. Physical activity levels for adults are also low, and increasing these can be beneficial for health.

There are issues around mental health and wellbeing, with residents in the most deprived areas of Lancashire-12 nearly twice as likely to have mental health problems compared to those in the least deprived areas. This includes common mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and more severe disorders such as schizophrenia.

Adult social care is an important function of the county council, particularly with the expected rise in the older population. There are many factors which can influence whether an individual accesses social care including living arrangements and health status. In Lancashire-12 more people aged over-65 live alone compared to England, and are more likely to have a limiting long-term illness or disability, requiring adult care services, a figure which is likely to increase. There are high numbers of people providing unpaid care in Lancashire-12 and this is expected to increase as more people with complex social and health care needs require support in the future.

Increasing social capital and social participation can increase people's resilience to the negative effects of ill health and a move towards more asset-based community services may provide a way improve and protect the health of residents in the more deprived areas.

Lancashire-12 continues to face challenges to address the inequalities in health and wellbeing. For more information please see our health inequalities page and the recent health behaviours JSNA (PDF 1.9 MB).

Page updated August 2016