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Issue:- 24June 2010

49 is the age to change

ACCORDING to new statistics released by online service NHS MidLifeCheck, 49 is the age men are most likely to take an interest in their taking stock of how lifestyle may affect their future health. These men are an average of 2 stones, 3 lbs overweight (14kgs), with a 37-inch waist.

The report reveals that 43% of the people using the free lifestyle-assessment website ( are men - challenging the myth that men are not interested in health. NHS MidLifeCheck was launched by the Department of Health in February, and has been visited by more than 170,000 people so far. The average age of men completing the lifestyle questionnaire was 49.

NHS MidLifeCheck is completely confidential and guides the user through a series of multiple choice questions, before giving results and advice based on a red, amber, green traffic light system. People can then choose to set goals and create a plan in any of the 5 topic areas:- Healthy Eating, Emotional Wellbeing, Physical Activity, Alcohol and Smoking.

Other facts revealed about men completing the questionnaire include:-

► 27% of men drink more than 8 alcoholic units on one occasion at least once a week, with 7% drinking that amount or more every day. But a quarter don't drink alcohol at all (27%)

► 31% did just 0-30 minutes of brisk physical activity in the previous week

► 63% are overweight, with 21% considered to be obese.

► 29% are ex-smokers, with 13% still smoking.

► 71% reckon they eat 5 portions of fruit and veg several days per week with 19% achieving 5-a-day every day.

► 29% admit their emotional (mental) wellbeing is poor, with varying combinations of depression, high stress levels and pessimism.

Many men felt motivated by their results and decided to create a plan for change - the most popular topic being Healthy Eating.

The most common goals set by men on NHS MidLifeCheck were:-

1. Eat more fruit and vegetables
2. Eat a healthy breakfast
3. Eat less chocolate and crisps
4. Eat one piece of oily fish a week
5. Climb the stairs for ten minutes
6. Choose an alcohol free day a week.

People are encouraged to return to the NHS MidLifeCheck website a month later, to update their progress and track their weight.

Dr Ian Banks, Men's Health Forum President, said:- "Fine words will not change the dreadful statistics that plague low income group men. The Mid Life Check can and does. The problem is that for many men their 'mid-life' is far less than 49 years and we need to work harder to address these inequalities"

About NHS LifeCheck:-

► There are 3 NHS LifeCheck services:-

¤ NHS Baby LifeCheck - for parents and carers of babies aged 5 to 5 months

¤ NHS Teen LifeCheck - for young people aged 12-15

¤ NHS MidLifeCheck - for adults aged 40 and over

NHS LifeCheck was developed following the publication of the 2006 white paper Our Health, Our Care, Our Say. NHS LifeCheck encourages behaviour change and helps people to take responsibility for their own health. It can improve access to preventative healthcare for those in disadvantaged areas and aims to reduce health inequalities.

NHS Teen LifeCheck has been available since June 2009 and has successfully attracted almost 280,000 visits from teenagers. NHS Baby LifeCheck is aimed at parents and carers of 5 to 8 month old babies and has had 221,000 visits since August 2009.

Almost 90,000 people will be living in overcrowded housing by 2013

THERE will be a predicted 11% rise in people living in overcrowded housing within the next 3 years across the North West according to a new report.  A chronic shortage of affordable homes and the impact of the recession will force an ever increasing number of families to live in unsuitable conditions according to the National Housing Federation. 

In the North West there are an estimated 79,000 households classed as overcrowded, increasing to 89,000 by 2013.  In the forthcoming spending review, the Federation is calling on the Government to ensure that it can deliver 50,000 social rented and affordable homes a year in England.

The Federation blamed the dramatic slump in house-building for fuelling the crisis. The drought in mortgage finance has also forced many young families to stay at home with their parents while they save for a deposit, or to simply abandon hope of being able to afford their own place in the current economic climate.  At the same time, the supply of affordable homes has failed to keep pace with demand and the prospects of getting an affordable home are looking bleaker than ever for many people.

Federation North West regional manager Sallie Bridgen said:- "An 11% rise in those living in overcrowded housing in the North West will lead to poor health, depression and place an enormous strain on family relationships.  As well as having a negative impact on family life, it can contribute to increased levels of homelessness and put enormous pressure on public services as families are housed in expensive and often unsuitable temporary accommodation."

Southport and Ormskirk is best performing Advancing Quality hospital

SOUTHPORT and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust has been named the best performing hospital overall in the North West by Advancing Quality in results published.

Advancing Quality (AQ) is an innovative initiative backed by NHS North West that aims to reduce complications, lengths of hospital stay and readmission rates for patients in regularly performed treatments including heart attacks, hip and knee surgery, pneumonia and heart failure.

The Trust's scores in its 4 treatment areas were consistently high performing showing how successfully our doctors and nurses, and other clinical staff, are delivering to the agreed quality standards for their patients.

Factors driving the Trust's success include continuing what we already do well, improving discharge arrangements, introducing new patient information and enhancing training for staff. In recognition of this strong performance, the Trust will receive a financial incentive to invest back into patient care.

Dr Geraldine Boocock, medical director at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, said:- "The AQ programme focuses on helping doctors and nurses deliver the best possible quality care for all patients all of the time.  As a Trust, we work hard to achieve the highest possible standards and these results highlight our commitment to providing excellent patient care.  They are also a credit to the hard work of our staff and will give extra confidence to patients choosing to be treated at Southport and Ormskirk hospitals."

Trust chairman Sir Ron Watson CBE said:- "We are all extremely pleased with these results which show our total commitment to high quality patient care.  We combine this as a Trust with a safe and friendly service and are conscious of the very important part we play in our community where health issues are of such importance."

AQ was launched in October 2008 with 24 Trusts across the North West participating and scores how well trusts are delivering against key quality of care measures.

From today patients can find out more about the scores and compare them with hospitals across the region by visited:-

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