Health and wealth – an East/West divide when it comes to a flu jab

doctor reads chartIt’s flu vaccine season, and although a jab is no guarantee of protection, doctors urge the most vulnerable to have it done.

That call is taken up enthusiastically by the elderly in East of the city with vaccination rates over 75% in Newham and Tower Hamlets.  But in the more affluent West London boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, and Kensington and Chelsea the proportion of over 65s having it done is far lower, down to a little over 60%.

Flu jab map-2

The vaccine is given free to the over 65s and historically about 70% of elderly Londoners have heeded the health advice. But last year the proportion dropped slightly in the capital while it has remained consistent across England.

Flu vaccination is also given free of charge to pregnant women and children aged between 2 and 6.

The problem with providing an effective vaccine is that influenza is constantly mutating. Last year the vaccine offered little protection against the main strain of the disease that spread through the UK. Doctors are hoping that that failure will not push down rates of immunization this winter.

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See also

Sexual infection map shows problems for Lambeth and Southwark

Well-being and wealth – how South West London soars ahead of the rest

Nearly 9,500 deaths a year – study reveals impact of air pollution

Suicide rate lowest in 20 years and lowest in England and Wales

homeless 2London has the lowest rate of suicide of any region of England and Wales but the figures are far from even across the capital and some boroughs have rates that are above the national average.

The latest data available from the Office for National Statistics shows that in 2013 516 Londoners over the age of 15 killed themselves. That is a rate of 7.9 per 100,000 people. This is the lowest rate in the capital in the past 20 years. The highest rate in England is in the North East, and in Wales the rate is double that of London.

Suicide regional rates

The national figures reveal that 3 times more men than women commit suicide. The majority of men killed themselves through suffocation. This is also the most common method among women, but women are more likely than men to poison or drown themselves.

An age breakdown into groups of 5 years shows that people aged 45-49 have the highest rate of suicide. It is rare in those under 20 but climbs steadily up to the 45-49 age group.  Rates drop significantly at retirement age of 65 and only rise again in those over 80.

Because the actual numbers are small we have looked at averages over the past 3 years of data to examine rates at borough level. While the City of London has by far the highest rate the actual numbers are so small given the low population of the area that comparison of rates is not reliable.

In the 32 boroughs, Westminster has the highest rate at 12 per 100,000 people followed by Hammersmith and Fulham with 11.5. These proportions exceed the rate for England for the same period of 10.4 per 100,000 residents. The lowest rates are in Harrow, Greenwich and Newham.

Suicide london map


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See also

Low drug-related deaths rates hide middle-aged heroin problem

Low ranking on infant deaths puts London behind other cities

For help and more information: Samaritans







Abortion rate for under 18s halves in 5 years

Girl's boots-2

The rate of abortion for women under 18 has halved in the past five years. Figures from the Department of Health for 2009 to 2014 show that termination rates are down for all age groups except 18-19 year olds.

In 2014, 13 women in every 1,000 under 18 underwent an abortion. That is down from 26 in 1,000 in 2009. The reduction is less steep in other age groups, but rates for over 35s have nearly halved too.

The highest rate of abortion is for women 20-24, which has fallen back slightly to 37 per 1000. The rate for the 18-19 age group increased to 32 per 1000 women compared to 23 in 2009.

Abortion age groups

In total, 46,718 legal abortions were carried out in the city in 2014. The under 18s make up 1,784 of that number. The largest group by number is the 25-29 year-olds with 11,507 abortions.

Despite the reduction in rates for most age groups London still has the highest rate of abortion in England with an average of 21.8 per 1000 women compared to 16.6 for the whole country. The rate varies across London. Only 4 boroughs are below the national average – Wandsworth, Kingston, Camden and Richmond, which has the lowest rate.

Abortion map

Barking and Dagenham, in the east of the city, has a rate of 31.2 women per 1,000, nearly twice the national average. The rate is also high in neighbouring Newham and in Waltham Forest.

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See also

London teen pregnancy rate lowest but more end in abortion

Fewer babies born last year but birth rates vary across city

Thousands of women and girls with FGM living across London

Thousands of women and girls with FGM living across London

Adjura had FGM reversal surgery before the birth of her daughter Dfid-Jesiica Lea Wikimedia commons-1

Adjura had FGM reversal surgery before her daughter’s birth. Photo: Jessica Lea/Dfid

As many as 87,000 women and girls living in London may have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). They range from young children to women over 50 and make up 60% of all women with FGM in the UK.

The borough of Southwark is believed to have the highest number of females affected with an estimated 6,900. Brent has 6,024 and there are nearly 5,000 in both Lambeth and Newham.

The data comes from a study by City University and the human rights organisation Equality Now. They found that there are women and girls with FGM in all local authorities across the country but the 10 boroughs with the highest rates were all in London.


Outside London there is a high incidence in parts of Manchester, Birmingham, Slough, Bristol and Leicester.

Female genital mutilation involves the removal of all or part of the external female genitalia. In many African countries it is traditional practice carried out to control female sexuality and is often linked to the marriageability of girls and family “honour”.

See also

Schools data reveals ethnic mix with fall in proportion of white British pupils

London is more diverse than the UN or Fifa

Fewer babies born last year but birth rates vary across city

Women undergoing FGM suffer severe pain and the procedure can cause shock, haemorrhage, and fatal infections.  Longer term, women suffer can suffer chronic pain.

The study used survey data gathered by Unicef and USAID on the prevalence of FGM in 28 African countries plus Iraq and Yemen. In some countries, particularly in the horn of Africa, such as Somalia, FGM is near universally carried out.

Researchers applied this prevalence data to information from the 2011 census on the females born in these countries living in the UK.

Professor Alison Macfarlane of City University said: “These estimates have limitations as they assume that the women who have migrated are typical of women in their country as a whole which may well not be the case. They are needed as it is difficult to collect data directly about the numbers of women affected.”

The study was funded by the Home Office and the charity The London Trust. The purpose of the study is provide information for professionals to plan support service for women with FGM and safeguard those at risk.

The study also looked at the number of daughters born to women with FGM as these girls may be at particular risk. Researchers estimate that between 2005-13 nearly 31,000 girls were born to mothers with FGM in London.

Female genital mutilation was made criminal offence in the UK in 2003 but to date there has been no successful prosecution.

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Nearly 9,500 deaths a year – study reveals impact of air pollution

urban sunsetAir pollution is killing nearly 9,500 Londoners each year, more than twice the number previously thought.

The drastic increase is caused by the inclusion for the first time of numbers killed through long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide, NO2, a pollutant largely blamed on diesel engines.

Experts from the Environmental Research Group at Kings College developed new methods to quantify the effects of NO2 in the study carried out for the Greater London Authority and Transport for London. It is thought to be the first study to capture NO2 related deaths.

Previous estimates were based on the damage caused by small particles in the air caused by pollution, so called PM2.5. A study in 2008 calculated these caused more than 4,000 deaths a year. The new study revises that figure down to 3,537, but the addition of 5,879 deaths attributed to NO2 has dramatically increased the estimated death rate.

As previously reported by Urbs, all but two London boroughs are in breach of EU regulation on NO2 levels. The outer boroughs of Sutton and Bromley were the only ones meeting legal limits last year. But this study, based on 2010 data, shows that Bromley had one of the highest rates of deaths caused by air pollution. Along with Barnet, it has the equal highest mortality numbers, followed by Croydon. These are 3 of the most populous boroughs in London, and they have the most cars.

As our map below shows, Sutton comes around mid range. The lowest estimated death rates are recorded for Kingston and Hammersmith and Fulham.

Air pollution deaths

The study also found that the combined effects of PM2.5 and NO2 were responsible for nearly 2,500 hospital admissions for respiratory problems and 740 for cardiovascular damage.

See also

Most boroughs fail on legal limit for toxic gas that could harm health

Car ownership reveals a tale of 2 Londons

Heathrow gets the nod to expand, but it’s already Europe’s noisiest airport

Researchers based their findings on pollution levels from 2010 as it is the most recent base year data available from the London Atmospheric Emission Inventory, the system set up to gather air pollution information on the capital.

The GLA says that as the data is 5 years old it does not take into account more recent measures to improve air quality, such as the introduction of more hybrid buses to replace diesel vehicles.

The Mayor, Boris Johnson,  has announced an Ultra Low Emission Zone for 2020 to reduce heavy lorries and coaches in the capital. And in releasing the data he called on the UK Government and the EU to do more, as the study says that half the pollution in London comes from outside, including diesel fumes and industry emissions from continental Europe.

The Mayor also used the opportunity to again voice his opposition to the expansion of Heathrow, as recommended by the Airports Commission.

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Staying healthy and getting there easily prompts Londoners to go on foot

feetA higher proportion of Londoners are walking regularly than people in any other region of the country. And the rate of going on foot in the capital is rising.

Medical professionals suggest that 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week can improve health and help reduce the risk chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and strokes. Walking for 30 minutes  5 times per week is considered a good way of performing that exercise. 54% of Londoners are now doing that, up from 49% in the previous year. The national average is 47%.

Walking London

The data from the Active People Survey by Sport England shows that central areas of London, with easier access to amenities and less dependence on cars (as reported by Urbs London) have the highest levels of walking, particularly Westminster, Camden, Wandsworth and Lambeth. These boroughs have the some of the highest levels of regular walkers in England. Only the Isles if Scilly has higher levels, and they are largely car free.

Walking map

Only 4 outer London boroughs are below the national average. In comparison cycling is more polarised between inner and outer areas. 10% of the population of London cycles once a week. It’s double that rate in Hackney and 3 times higher in the City of London. The rate of cycling in the City is 7 times higher than Hillingdon.

cylcing map

This pattern of a stark difference in inner and outer London is reflected in the usage of Boris Bikes across the capital (also reported by Urbs London). The outer borough that bucks this trend is Richmond, likely due to easy access to open spaces for recreational cycling, rather than commuting.

The numbers of regular cycle commuters, using bikes 5 times a week, has remained constant, but there has been a reduction over the past 4 years in occasional cyclists who use a bike once a week.

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See also

Sporty Londoners prefer solo exercise

Car ownership reveals a tale of 2 Londons

Road deaths and serious injuries down but pedestrians remain most at risk

Some boroughs excelling at chlamydia screening for under 25s

dreamstime_s_11962359Screening for chlamydia is double the national level in some London boroughs and the average rate across the capital is higher than the national rate.

Chlamydia is the most common form of sexually transmitted infection and often shows no symptoms. Left untreated it can lead to fertility problems for women and men. The disease is particularly prevalent in younger people under the age of 25.

The latest data from Public Health England for 2013 shows that of the 1.7 million 15-25 year-olds screened, 300,000 were in London. That gives London a rate of 27.7% compared to the national figure of 24.9%.

Most boroughs achieve the national level but Lambeth, Wandsworth, Camden and Hackney are easily surpassing it. Bexley, Enfield and the north west boroughs of Brent, Harrow and Ealing are the only ones falling below national level.

Chlamydia map

A screening test for chlamydia does not require an examination. Testing is done at GP surgeries, GUM clinics and through special services at pharmacies and colleges provided for under 25s by the National Chlamydia Screening Programme. Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics.

Some of the areas with the best screening rates in London also have the highest levels of other sexually transmitted infections, which suggests that screening is being offered while other treatments are being carried out at GUM clinics.

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See also

Sexual infection map shows problems for Lambeth and Southwark

Nearly half UK’s HIV patients are living in London

More information about chlamydia here


Nearly half UK’s HIV patients are living in London

HIV test

Just under half the people in the UK living with HIV are in London.  The latest data from Public Health England shows that of the 68,664 people who were diagnosed as HIV positive, 31,393 were living in the capital.

The prevelence of HIV in the population of England is 2.14 people per 1000.  In London it is 5.7.  A borough-level breakdown of the numbers for 2013 shows that Lambeth and Southwark have the highest rates by some margin.  There are 3,342 people in Lambeth being treated and 2,692 in Southwark.

The proportion for the City represents just 57 patients. The only boroughs where patient rates are below the England average are Havering and Kingston.

HIV map

The data is based on the number of people aged 15-59 living with a diagnosed HIV infection who are resident in a local authority area and who were seen for HIV care at an NHS site.

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.  It weakens a person’s immune system, damaging the ability to fight off diseases.  The virus was first diagnosed in 1982. It is treated with drugs that stop the virus reproducing but do not cure the infection.  Patients with HIV need continuing treatment, which is now so effective that those diagnosed are seeing normal life expectancy.

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See also:

Sexual infection map shows problems for Lambeth and Southwark

For more information on living with HIV see Terrence Higgins Trust

Low ranking on infant deaths puts London behind other cities

hLondon has a higher infant death rate than many other wealthy international capitals, according to a study by Save the Children.

As part of a wide assessment of infant mortality the charity looked at urban areas across the globe, including 25 cities in wealthy developed countries.  London came 19th in the list of 25 that was topped by Prague.  The infant death rate in London is 4 in every 1000 live births.  In Prague, Stockholm and Oslo it is half that.

Infant mortality

Washington DC came bottom of the ranking with a death rate of 7.9 infants per thousand.  Within the US capital there is a wide discrepancy with the death rate 10 times higher in the poorest neighbourbood as the richest one.

Urban populations are growing worldwide, and while this has led to better survival rates for children under 5, according to Save the Children, there is a growing gap between urban rich and urban poor.  Survival rates for the poorest children in city slum areas are as bad or worse than those for rural areas.

State of the World’s Mothers – the Urban Disadvantage

Sexual infection map shows problems for Lambeth and Southwark

Lambeth and Southwark have the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections in London.  Data from Public Health England shows the two south London boroughs have substantially more cases of both syphilis and gonorrhoea than other areas.

Lambeth has 91 cases of syphilis per 100,000 people. Southwark has 82.  In neighbouring Wandsworth it is 22 and in Merton 11.  The lowest incidence is in Havering and Harrow with just 2 cases per 100,000.  The darker colours on the borough map of London represent the highest rates of infection.

The picture is similar for cases of gornorrhoea.  In Lambeth there are 155 cases per 100,000 people.  In Southwark it is 398 and in Hackney 351. The average for London is 155 but some boroughs have a fraction of that number.

The rate of STIs is 3 times higher in London that it is for England as a whole.

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